RALPH BROWN DRAUGHON
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POPULAR POLITICAL ECONOMY
JOHN BARNARD BYLES,
WITH CORRECTIONS AMD ADDITIONS.
^i'dTKOvTiq eLVcci (TOifioi eiAcopavO'/jCrxy.
FLEET STREET, and HANOVER STREET.
L. SEELEY, PRINTER, THAMES DITTON, SURREY.
Some who do not agree with the general views of
National Economy here submitted to their better judg-
mentj may yet perhaps coincide with much that is
said on the following subjects : — ^' The Cases proper
for government interference/' — " Colonies/^ — ^' Capi-
tal," — "The effect of government expenditure/' — ^-'Ire-
land/'— "The Currency/'— "The Theory of Popu-
lation/'— " The Theory of Rent/'— " Pauperism,"—
"The National Debt,"— "Absenteeism,"— "The Wages
of Labour, and Strikes/' — " Emigration and Coloniza-
tion," — " The practical means of more widely diffusing
the ownership of land among the people," — and " Joint
Stock Companies." If, in the judgment of such candid
readers, the writer has any where been betrayed into
too strong language against the recent revolution in
the agricultural, colonial, commercial, and maritime
policy of this Great Empire, he craves all just allowances
for a humble, but deep and earnest conviction, however
mistaken. Any aspersions on the motives of the authors
of that momentous change would be unjust, and none
IV PREFACE TO THE EIGHTH EDITION.
such have ever been found in these pages. The welfare
of our native land, all her true sons have at heart, how-
ever much they may differ as to the means of promot-
Those who have honoured with a perusal, any one
of the former editions, will find in nearly every chapter
of the present edition, emendations or additions. Several
new chapters and an Index have been added.
Besides numerous strictures in periodical publica-
tions and newspapers, two ^^ Answers " to these sheets,
have appeared, and one of them has reached a second
edition. The author of this little book has endeavoured
to make the true and best use of hostile criticism.
Where errors or obscurities have been pointed out,
instead of defending, he has endeavoured to correct
them : where he remains unconvinced by the statements
or arguments of his opponents, he has left the book to
speak for itself.
The all-important and decisive question of the com-
parative value of home and foreign trade, had so little
attracted the attention of the public, and been so little
understood, that the most opposite and mutually des-
tructive attacks have been made on the chapters dealing
with that subject. Some writers who have honoured this
book with their animadversions, perceiving that the
maxim examined in the fourth chapter is incorrect, have
PREFACE TO THE EIGHTH EDITION. V
boldly asserted that it has never been propounded by
political economisis at all. Others, well knowing that it
has been often propounded, and that it is a favourite
doctrine with nearly all of them, have maintained not
only that it is correct, but so clearly right, that the most
obvious truism might as well be disputed. Pressed,
however, by the difficulties that are shewn to attend it,
some of these writers have endeavoured to evade them,
by reasoning as if in the places where this book speaks
of a loss to a nation by a change of policy, in substitut-
ing foreign for home production, it had spoken of a loss
in the particular transaction. But that has never been
stated. What is stated is this — that there is a loss to
the nation by the change of policy, and that the greater
cheapness of the foreign product is no compensation.
The fact is, that the maxim at the head of the fourth
chapter, is at first sight, apparently true, and therefore
has misled many writers ; but when examined, it turns
out to be demonstrably false.
Experience has shewn the necessity of scrutinizing it
at a length, which to many readers will appear quite
unnecessary, and of presenting it in three distinct points
of view, as is attempted in the fourth, fifth, and twenty-
By the unexpected and undeserved favour of the
public in calling for several thousand copies, this book
has gradually grown into what it never was intended,
and never presumed to be, a sort of popular treatise on
VI PREFACE TO THE EIGHTH EDITION.
Political Economy. Very different, it must be conceded,
from other treatises which have a better title to be so
considered. The writer cannot plead ignorance, that
the views it ventures to submit are at irreconcileable
variance with opinions generally received | in this
country. Time was, when he entertained those more
fashionable opinions himself. Upwards of twenty-five
years ago he wrote for his own use, an abridgement of
the late Mr. Kicardo's ' Principles of Political Economy,'
— seduced by the subtilty and clear style of that in-
genious author. More mature reflection however, long
since led to the conclusion that a large portion of Mr.
E/icardo's doctrines are erroneous. Indeed many of
them have since been attacked and refuted by writers
of Mr. Eicardo's own school. Such a change of opinion
is not singular : it has been experienced by others.
The Hon. "VVillard Phillips, of Cambridge, Massa-
chusets, is a gentleman well known to members of the
legal profession, both in England and America, by his
profound and masterly treatise on the Law of Marine
Insurance. He has lately published another book on
Political Economy, well deserving to be extensively cir-
culated in this country.*
* " Propositions concerning Protection avd Free-trade,'''' by Willard
Phillips, Boston, 1850. The author much regrets that he had not seen
this book, till after the seventh edition of his own book had appeared.
In the present edition, however, he has in more than one place been
under obligations to Mr. Phillips. The passage alluded to in the text is
as follows : — " I should he happy to believe that there is little at stake,
PREFACE TO THE EIGHTH EDITION. Vll
In the preface he declares that being early imbued
with the free-trade theory, he had occasion to attempt
its vindication against its impugners, but on entering
anew on an investigation for this purpose, his views
became unexpectedly and entirely changed. His book
gives the results of this re-investigation, and what
appear to the majority of his enlightened countrymen,
the unanswerable reasons.
The opinions of his distinguished and all accomplished
fellow-citizen, Daniel Webster, have undergone a similar
revolution. After long experience, not only in the
House of Representatives and in the Senate, but in
high office, he is now a decided protectionist.
Few persons have been the means of conferring
greater happiness on millions, than the distinguished
German, who was at once the author of the " National
System of Political Economy," the father of the Zol-
verein, and the projector of the network of railways,
that envelopes Germany. But the celebrated Dr. List
and that the doctrines of free-trade do not tend directly to the distress,
decay and political subordination and degradation of this country, and the
too great entanglement of its industry and interests with those of other
nations. But it has not happened to me in thus devoting my attention,
more particularly to these inquiries, as it did some thirty years ago.
Being then imbued with that economical creed, which is taught in our
public seminaries, I had occasion to attempt its vindication against the
aggressions then supposed to be made on commerce and the useful arts,
through protective legislation ; and I had the good fortune or misfortune
on investigating the subject anew, to convert myself to the opinions I had
undertaken to combat. I came out with the thorough conviction, that the
science which seemed so luminous to those at the feet of the Gamaliels,
consisted very much of groundless postulates and sophistry."
Vlll PREFACE TO THE EIGHTH EDITION.
was not brought up in his system. It was the result
of years of free inquiry, founded on actual observation
in America, Germany, and France. Nay, those who
accurately know what has been the political economy
in fashion in England for the last thirty years, and
who have attentively perused the most recent writings
of Mr. McCulloch and Mr. Mill, cannot fail to detect
in both those distinguished authors, indications of pro-
found scepticism, if not of a revolution of opinion on
some doctrines theretofore considered unassailable.
All must agree, that the more a country pro-
duces, THE richer it IS. The question therefore is,
what course of policy will effectually develop the pro-
ducing forces of a nation. Modern free-traders assert
that unregulated exchanges, and universal cheapness, no
matter how attained, will do it. We venture to submit,
that this let-alone policy will never do it ; but that there
are wise regulations which will do it certainly and soon,
and do it in the British Empire more effectually than
What are the natural producing forces of a country ?
The men, the land, the coals, the iron, the stone, the
clay, the rivers, the ports, the water power. The arti-
ficial producing forces are steam-engines, railways,
power-looms, blast-furnaces, rolling-mills.
In Ireland, there are, and have long been, unregulated
exchanges and free-trade with the richest of nations.
There is now, and has for some time been, a cheapness
PREFACE TO THE EIGHTH EDITIOX. IX
never before known. Are the producing forces of Ire-
land developed or smothered by it ? The men of Ire-
land, the human organization, the most precious and
productive of machines, the most fertilizing of animals,
without whom land is worth nothing, (as will soon be
discovered when the depopulation* has proceeded a little
further,) can find no employment — are idle, starved,
or expatriated. Next comes the land. Square leagues,
capable of becoming the richest land under heaven,
and the granary of Great Britain, are unproductive
and uncultivated. The coals, the iron, the stone, the
clay, unworked — almost unknown. The rivers, the
ports, the water power, unused. Steam engines, rail-
ways, power-looms, blast-furnaces, rolling mills, scarcely
exist in Ireland.
Look at the West Indies under the same " cheapest
market " policy. The industry of the white man
stopped, the blacks idle and relapsing into paganism
and barbarism, the very dykes that fence against the sea
going to ruin, sugar plantations abandoned, the land un-
cultivated, the roads obliterated. A planter we are told,
can now hardly find his own house in the rank jungle.
The same paralysis of producing forces, but not to
* " I shall believe," says Milton, " there cannot be a more ill-boding
sign to a nation, (God turn the omen from us) than when the inhabitants,
to avoid insufferable grievances at home, are forced by heaps to forsake
their native country." And what is taking place in Ireland is beginning
in Scotland, Wales, and England too, and will go on, unless a wiser
legislation interposes. The observations in pages 47 and 48 were written
two years ago, long before any alarm had been felt at depopulation.
X PREFACE TO THE EIGHTH EDITION.
the same extent, is apparent in Canada, New Bruns-
wick and Nova Scotia. On the Canadian side of the
boundary line between Canada and the United States,
are unregulated imports (improperly called free-trade) ;
on the side of the United States, is protection and its
consequence — domestic industry. We are told that
land one minute south of this imaginary line, is more
than double the value of land one minute north of it.*
It is true these fatal symptoms are in the extremi-
ties, not the heart of the Empire : just as the deadly
palsy first seizes the arms or hands.
But what is the most important interest in the heart
of the three kingdoms ? — unquestionably. Agriculture.
No other branch of industry employs a fifth of the
capital. The value of its productions transcends all
other industries put together. This vast aggregate
value is the result of agricultural capital applied to the
The agricultural capital on which this development
of the greatest of all producing forces depends, is in a
state of consumption and decay, throughout the three
kingdoms. Reader, if you are an actual grower of
wheat, barley, or oats, and can speak from personal
knowledge and experience, you know too well that this
startling assertion is the sad and bitter truth. Yet is
*■ " Every colony of England would gladly separate from her, feeling
that connection with her is synonymous with deterioration of condition."
Harmony of Interests^ AgriculturaU Manufacturing^ and Commercial. By
Henry C. Carey, Philadelphia, 1851. This is a valuable book, replete
with practical information as to the statistics of the Great Western world.
PREFACE TO THE EIGHTH EDITION. XI
it a truth so unacceptable and unpalatable, that while
men can shut their eyes to it, they will obstinately do
so ; especially those who are enjoying a short-lived
prosperity springing from your losses, and those whose
cherished theories, or sanguine anticipations, this sad
And all this depopulation, distress, and loss through-
out the Empire, happens at a time, when from the inven-
tion, and extended application of the steam-engine, of
railways, and steam-ships, the most astonishing pros-
perity was to have been expected. Indeed, it is the
countervailing influence of great discoveries in physical
science, that mitigates the pressure of evils otherwise
One lamentable and indisputable fact at least, is
now before the eyes of all men. The agricultural and
manufacturing bodies of the same country, are mar-
shalled against each other, in hostile, not to say battle
array. It is certain that some new arrangement of
their differences, must be the result. What the de-
tails of that arrangement will be, no one can foresee.
Yet it may safely be predicted, that it will be founded
in justice : for any other arrangement will be but a
short and feverish truce. What is the justice of the
A controversy has arisen, whether the agriculturists
(who, in addition to their share of all other national
burthens, in effect maintain the Church,) sustain a
XU PREFACE TO THE EIGHTH EDITION.
heavier load than the manufacturers. Most impartial
persons think they sustain a much heavier one. But this
is not the true comparison. The English cultivator is
undersold, not by the English manufacturer, but by the
foreign grower. The true comparison, therefore, is be-
tween the burthens of the English farmer, and the bur-
thens of the cultivator of the rich and virgin soils of the
South of Russia, or of the States of Wisconsin, or Mic-
higan, where wheat is worth on the spot, less than two
shillings a bushel, and is given to the pigs. Countries,
which by the aid of steam, are every year coming
nearer. The English cultivator says, '^ I am willing
to enter the lists, and will endeavour to keep up the
cultivation of England against better climates, and
richer and virgin soils. I will do my best to cultivate
an inferior soil, in an ungenial and capricious climate.
But over and above all this, you now call on me to
bear national and parochial burthens, from which my
new competitors, more favored by nature, are entirely
free. Tax me, if you must. But if you do, you must
in justice tax my giant competitor too.^^
" I bear my share of the public burthens,^' says the
Manchester man, " why should not you ? " " You do
not,^' says the agriculturist ; " But suppose you did.
What then ? I am not favored by nature, you are.
You have iron, coal, labor, and machinery, all in your
favor. Natural and uncontrollable circumstances are at
present, with you, and against me. I say at present, for I
can imagine a situation for you — and peradventure, ere
PREFACE TO THE EIGHTH EDITION. Xlll
long, it will not be an imaginary one — that will be a
nearer parallel to mine. You now want your cotton
from India, and are making a railway across the isth-
mus of Suez, to get at it. But suppose, that instead of
the raw Indian cotton coming to England, that railway,
and the East Indian railways, with which it is to be
in correspondence, should transport to India, and distri-
bute in Hindostan, English machinery, and instruction,
to spin, and weave, and print the cotton on the spot
where it is grown. A fine climate reduces to very
little, the wants of a teeming, multitudinous, and
highly ingenious, but rice-fed population, adapted by
nature herself to the light industry of the cotton
manufacture. Here are inexhaustible supplies of labor
cheaper than cold, rainy, high -feeding Manchester can
ever furnish. Adieu to the difficulty of transporting
Indian cotton to England. It will come, but in the
compendious shape of calicoes, shirting, sheeting,
towelling, muslins, cheaper than ever were heard of.
Do not suppose all this to be a mere illustration. It is
actually happening at this hour in the United States.
The cheap slave-labor and genial climate of the South-
ern and cotton growing States, is unexpectedly, but
effectually superseding the dear free-labor of the North,
and the expensive double transit of the material thither
and back, by manufacturing the cotton on the spot
where it is grown. Nay, in the case of India, the
manufacture even of the very finest muslins would
be but returning to its original and natural abode.
XIV PREFACE TO THE EIGHTH EDITION.
As our greater cheapness once smothered the indi-
genous industry of British India, so its yet greater
cheapness may now smother our artificial industry.
The great cotton manufacturies, the new Manchesters,
Salfords, Stockports, are henceforth, as they have been
before, in Bengal, in the Mysore, the Carnatic, or the
Deccan. Now old Manchester is in my present con-
dition. In the presence of fearful natural odds against
her, she now complains of the burthen of taxation direct
and indirect, from which her Indian competitors are free,
and cries for relief, or else a proportionate protection. Is
it any solid answer to her just complaints, to say, "You
bear no more than the Birmingham or Sheffield people
do?" Certainly not. Their situation is entirely dif-
The genuine Political Economist indeed, cuts short
this strife between agriculturists and manufacturers,
by an appeal to what he calls principle. According
to him, if agriculture can be carried on cheaper else-
where, than in the United kingdom, let agriculture
migrate thither : if manufactures can, let them go too.
But a cosmopolitan policy which would turn England
into a desert, is not the policy which either the Crown
or the people will eventually adopt.
The Great Exhibition, and some other recent in-
cidents have disclosed the mortifying truth, that in
some things, where we foudly imagined ourselves
PREPACE TO THE EIGHTH EDITION. XV
far before foreigners^ we are really far behind them.
While we have been standing still, and complacently
contemplating our attainments, they have been inquir-
ing, doubting, examining, correcting, improving, inven-
ting. So it is in Political Economy. Economical
positions here considered elementary and above dispute,
have abroad been doubted, attacked, sifted, and can-
vassed with a freedom and fulness of discussion and
illustration, unknown in England. The result is, that
the immense majority of educated men, as well as
senators and statesmen in France, Germany, and the
United States, are on the side of protection to domestic
industry. In different degrees, it is true, — but still
they are for protection. They have come round to the
opinion of President Jefferson, that mutual vicinity is
essential to the producing power of agriculture and
manufactures : that they must be laid side by side.
And in the United Kingdom itself, if all the educated
men, who have formed any opinion at all of their own,
could be polled, it is very doubtful on which side the
majority would even here be found. There is, indeed, a
large class able to judge for themselves, but too indif-
ferent, too lazy, or too busy to undertake the investi-
gation. These last, content to swim with the stream,
have given and will give, the sanction of their indolent
acquiescence to the economical faith for the time in
fashion, whatever it be.
But there are moreover vast multitudes of practical
XVI PREFACE TO THE EIGHTH EDITION.
men opposed to the new Policy. Many are discouraged
and dissatisfied that their poHtical chiefs shew, as they
think, little disposition to attack it.
It sounds indeed, like heartless mockery, to exhort
to patience broken-hearted men, who without any
fault of their own, are drifting every year nearer to
irretrievable ruin. But what seems to them a long
time, is in the life of a nation, nothing. Those states-
men who in the event of a change, would be respon-
sible for the tranquillity o^ the country and the safety
of property, well know, that a safe and permanent
change of policy cannot be brought about by a single
class, but must come from the majority of the nation.
Those who want statesmen in this country to act, must
confer on them the power of acting. That power can
come now from one quarter only — public opinion. The
events of the last twenty-five years have here laid all
other power prostrate in the dust. It is therefore the
duty of every man, even the humblest, who entertains
strong opinions on such momentous topics, to profess
them openly, and to do every thing in his power to
diffiise them. This is the excuse which the writer
has to offer for devoting his intervals of leisure from
a laborious and engrossing profession to such a book
as this. He did not indeed presume to obtrude his
name on the public, till the anonymous continuance
of the publication might seem to savour of affecta-
tion, or to betray a doubt of doctrines that he firmly be-
PREFACE TO THE EIGHTH EDITION. XVll
Ere long it will be plain, that public opinion has
veered about. A storm of disappointment and vexation
will follow. It will then be easy enough to change
our recent policy, indeed impossible to resist a change ;
but not so easy to repair the ruin that will have been
Imier Temple, Nov. 1, 185].
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
Whoever, contemplates, on the one hand, the enor-
mous powers of production in the United Kingdom ;
and on the other the misery, which nevertheless grinds
down masses of the population, will necessarily con-
clude, that the circumstances which ensure or promote
the due distribution of wealth, are yet unknown or
mistaken. He will see the science which assumes to
teach these things, discredited, helpless^ and utterly at
fault. There must be something fearfully wrong, or
essentially deficient in the prevailing system. There
must necessarily be some error in theory. No ade-
quate practical measures of relief can be devised, till
it is discovered.
The following sheets are not written to aid a party,
but to assist, if possible, in reaching the truth on a
very complex and difficult subject. Protectionists wdll
find no defence of a high price of subsistence, and
free-traders no acquiescence in their recommendation
of unlimited and indiscriminate imports.
XX PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
If any who profess the doctrines of modern English
PoUtical Economy, should condescend to cast their eye
on these pages, they will, no doubt, dissent from
nearly all that is said on free-trade, population, pau-
perism, wages and currency. But, among Political
Economists, as well as among their opponents, in Eng-
land, France, Germany and America, are to be found
those who cherish the true spirit of scientific inquiry.
That spirit is a simple devotion to the truth, what-
ever it shall turn out to be, and an entire indifference
to the results of inquiry, so that they be but true.*
Criticism and correction by such is not deprecated, it
is respectfully and earnestly invited.
The vulgar, however, on both sides, are incapable
of independent judgment, take their opinions on trust,
and mix up abstract and scientific truth with strong
party feelings and predilections. They begin to read
with a secret but irresistible wish before-hand, that a
particular doctrine should prove true. The discovery
of truth is not given to such a disposition. On com-
plex and really disputable subjects, what a man ear-
nestly wishes to be true, he will find true. Eeading and
inquiry only serve to entrench him in his notions.
Whether those notions be truth or error, is the result,
not of really free and unprejudiced inquiry, but of
* " To be indifferent which of two opinions is true, is the right temper
of the mind, that preserves it from being imposed on, and disposes it to
examine. This is the only direct and safe way to truth." — Locke.
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION. XXI
An apology is due from a lawj^er who presumes to
meddle with subjects out of his own profession. He is,
it is said, a man of narrow mind, and necessarily
limited information. It is not for him to say, (perhaps
he could not say) that the imputation is unjust. But,
by way of compensation, he has, on a subject of this
nature, some advantages over others. That narrow
and microscopic vision with which he is charged, does
not altogether unfit him for the minute and steady
examination of the abstract theories of Political Eco-
nomy. He has no interest, except in the general wel-
fare. And living, as a mere lawyer does, retired from
the world and general politics, he has a chance of being
in a measure, exempt from the prejudices of party, and
from that fanaticism, which in politics and Political
Economy, as well as in other things, sometimes, like
an epidemic, seizes the people, high and low.
In Prance, Germany, Holland, and the United States,
the general opinion of educated men on these subjects
is very different from that which yet reigns here. In-
deed, until lately, no Englishman, who should have
ventured to dispute the passionate persuasion of the
public, could have hoped for a fair and candid hearing.
It was necessary to wait. As a brilliant Frenchman
once said of fanaticism of a different sort : " II faut
attendre que Pair soit purifie."
No one is more conscious of the defects to be found
in these pages, than the writer. He is sensible that a
XXU PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
more popular tone has been adopted, than is, perhaps,
quite appropriate to the severity of such inquiries. But
it was necessary. A mere dry dissertation, in the bet-
ter style of political economists, about yards of cloth,
and quarters of corn, would never have had even a
chance of being read. He trusts, however, that he has
not been betrayed into any disrespectful or uncandid
language towards those who think differently, and
who are, perhaps, better informed.
London, October 31, 1849.
" Political economy is a science." - - 1
" Legislate on sound principles." - - - 7
'^ Let things alone — L aissez faire, laissez oiler. " - 11
" Foreign commodities are always paid for by
British commodities, THEREFORE the pur-
chase of foreign commodities encourages British
industry as much as the purchase of British
commodities." - - - - - -IS
" Buy in the cheapest market" - - - 36
" If all countries practised free-trade, all coun-
tries would he gainers" - - - - 55
" Protected mamifactures are sickly" - - 70
'^ Pas trop gouverner — Don t over-govern" - 82
" What is the good of Colonies ?" - - - 98
'' Protection would destroy external trade." - 113
" The distress of the country is owing to taxes,
and the expenditure of government." - - 121
" Increase of exports and imports is the index
of national prosperity." - - - 129
" All commodities should he rendered as cheap
as possible." - - - - - -133
" Free importation is the sou7xe of plenty ; pro-
tection, of scarcity." - - - - -142
" England has a greater capital than any other
country." - - - - - - '-145
" The evils of Ireland will work their own cure." 1 50
'' The currency should vary, as it luoidd vary, if
it were entirely metallic." - - - - 168
" It is preposterous to interfere tuith a man's
management of his own property." - - 183
^^ Free-trade is good for Ireland.'' - - - 1S9
" Higher wages will hut increase population." - 201-
" Beware of having recourse to inferior soils." - 208
" Don't undertake to employ the able-hodied
pauper productively." ----- 230
" Dont attempt to reduce the capital of the
national debt. Let the taxes rather fructify
in the pockets of the people." _ _ _ 230
*' Absenteeism is no evil." _ _ _ - 238
" Other nations will follow our example." - - 241
" A return to the protective policy will never be" 244
" To raise the wages of labor is to impair the
fund out of which wages are paid." - - 247
" Don't tax the nation for the benefit of a pro-
ducing class. Take care of the consumer, and
let the producer take care of himself." - - 265
" Individuals know their own interests, and may
and should be left to take care of them in
their own way ; for the interests of indi-
viduals, and the interest of the public, which
is but an aggregation of individuals, coincide." 272
'' England may be made the work-shop of the
world.'' - - - - - - - 274
" War and invasion are but dangers of by -gone
ages." -.-_..- 283
XXV 111 CONTENTS.
'' The Navigation Laws were useless and in-
jurious." ------- 292
" Labour should he left to flow in its own
natural channels" ----- 307
" The value of every thing must now he settled hy
universal and unregulated competition." - 318
" Farming should he carried on like any other
trade." ------- 323
'' Repeal the Buhhle Act.'' - - - - 349
SOPHISMS OF FREE-TRADE.
FREE-TRADE AND POPULAR
" Political economy is a science."
The fallacy seems to lie in using the present tense,
instead of the future tense. Political economy will he
a science. The political economy of Munn, and Gee,
in 1750; was very difiPerent from the political economy
of M'Culloch and Mill in 1850. But it was not more
different, than the political economy of M^Culloch and
Mill now is, from w^hat will be the political econouiy
If by a science be meant a collection of truths ascer-
tained by experiment, and on which all well-informed
men are agreed, then political economy is manifestly
not yet a science.
If by a science be meant a subject on which some
little has gradually become known, but the great body
J^ WHETHER POLITICAL ECONOMY
of solid knowledge yet remains to be discovered by-
experience and observation, then indeed, in this lower
sense, political economy is a science.
But if political economy claim to be a science at all,
she must abate much of her pretensions, much of her
dogmatism, descend to a lower rank, and adopt a more
modest and inquiring tone. She must learn to tolerate
doubt, to endure contradiction. If she aspire to learn
in the book of experience, she must expect as she turns
over the leaves to meet with problems wholly unex-
pected, and ultimate solutions at variance with all pre-
conceived notions. She must make up her mind to
see theory after theory, supported by great names and
confidently propounded, yet after all rebuked and ex-
posed by experiment. She must remember that there
are twenty wrong courses of public policy to one right
one, and that all the erroneous ones are often tried,
before the right one can be demonstrated by experience
to be right.
A slow, painful, humiliating road to knowledge, —
but the only true one. Other paths' may lead to con-
jecture or opinion more or less plausible; this alone to
certain and demonstrable knowledge. But what we
want is, not to conjecture but to know ; in the forcible
language of the father of experimental philosophy,
'' baud belle et probabiliter opinari, sed certo et osten-
What experimental science is there in which the
whole truth was discovered at once, or in the course of
BE AT PRESENT A SCIENCE. 6
a few years ? Much less are we to suppose that we
have been favoured with sudden and preternatural
illumination on a subject so complex and difficult as
If we would form a just estimate of our modern En-
glish notions on this matter, we must look backwards,
look around us, and ,look forward; or we shall resemble
the rustic, whose history and geography are circum-
scribed by his own life in his own parish.
We m.ust look backward into times past.
When modern political economists are spoken of as
if nobody knew any thing before them, and as if no-
body will discover any thing of moment after them, we
may be sure that we hear the language of empiricism,
not of science. " Vixere fortes ante Agamemnona."
There are many writers before Adam Smith, of whom
posterity will form an estimate more favourable than
is now entertained. Bacon, Montesquieu, Fenelon,
Petty, Swift and Voltaire, will not hereafter be less
esteemed, because they did not use the parade of scien-
tific terms, and were not embarrassed by modern and
The need of a political economy, very different from
the inert and barren system now in fashion, is but too
apparent to any one who looks around him. Modern
society presents to the serious observer, as the conse-
quences of past and present systems of political eco-
nomy, practical results by no means flattering. The
4< WHETHER POLITICAL ECONOMY
immense progress of physical science has multiplied a
thousand-fold the means of producing wealth. There
is in the overflowing and exhaustless bounty of nature,
not only enough, but a superfluity for every one of the
children of men. Yet some mysterious and invisible,
but impassable barrier impedes its distribution^ and
shuts out the masses from the promised land. Por-
tentous and gigantic social evils, present and approach-
ing, mock the wisdom of the wise.
Political economists ! Look at England's boundless
wealth and hopeless poverty. At Ireland^s starving
myriads. At her dearest children escaping for their
lives, like Lot from the cities of the plain ? At the
periodical alternations of manufacturing prosperity and
manufacturing depression and starvation ! At the
expanse of untilled lands, spread abroad amidst a
starving, idle and congested population ! At your own
difi'erences and disagreements about rent, population,
currency, v/ages, profits ! At the theories opposed to
yours, not only in fashion and in power, in France,
Germany, Russia and America, but supported by the
most original thinkers and greatest writers. Some of
these writers have been unjust to you. They affirm
that instead of a science, solid and practical, you are
but the authors of a literature, unsatisfactory, obscurCj
presumptuous, and which would be dangerous, were it
not eminently tedious.
But we must also look forward with courage and
BE AT PRESENT A SCIENCE. 5
confidence. The imperfect and rudimentary condition of
the science of political economy while it accounts for
present evils, is for that very reason the sure ground of
hope for the future. It is manifest that we have not
yet hit on the true theory. But in the mean time, the
tools and implements with which the new and true
political economy is destined to work, are beginning to
multiply around us. The Steam-engine, Steam-navi-
gation, Railways, Mechanical Inventions, the Electric
Telegraph, Modern Chemistry, have not appeared for
nothing. A science of political economy wdll yet
dawn, that shall perform as well as promise. A science
that will rain the riches of nature into the laps of the
starving poor. Men do not even yet dream of the
prosperity which is in store for all orders of the
As in other sciences, so in political economy, each
accession of knowledge will not only be a step to
further, but to greater acquisitions. True and solid
knowledge will not only advance, but advance in a
continually increasing ratio. The world now presents
a variety of communities far advanced in civilization ;
the field of experience is enlarged and diversified.
But besides ordinary experience, there is an artificial
experience, which is called experiment. At this
moment the anxious and vigilant attention of theore-
tical and practical men is invited to vast experiments
now in progress. It were to be wished that some
other community, and not the noble British Empire,
b POLITICAL ECONOMY A SCIENCE.
had been selected as the vile corpus of experiment.
We shall suffer much, and what is worse, the innocent
will be the sufferers. AVe shall probably lose a large
portion of our possessions. But we shall be wiser.
We shall finally adopt the true policy, and after much
tribulation enter into a better state of things.
Is it more correct to say that political economy is
already a science, or that it will he one ?
THE SPIRIT 0? SYSTEM.
" Legislate on sound prindijles."
IThich^ being* interpreted, means, ^^ Surrender your-
self TO THE SPIRIT OF SYSTEM." '^ CaRR5 OUT Y'OUR
The SPIRIT OF SYSTEM, a fertile source of error, fertile
in most sciences, is peculiarly so in political economy.
It is a foe to solid knowledge, the more insidious and
fatal, because it usually accompanies superior mental
capacity, being very nearly allied to that love and relish
of truth which distinguishes minds of a superior order.*
The spirit of system consists in a tendency to reduce all
phenomena to a few general rules, and to find a greater
* History shews, that it is not the learned only, whom the spirit of
system fascinates and misleads. It is sometimes an epidemic passion or
fever maddening all ranks down to the very populace.
Republican government has the charm of simplicity. The English and
French nations have accordingly been seized by turns with a fanaticism
for it. Straightway property was saenficed, and blood poured out like
water for a mere political theory.
So a year or two ago England was fascinated with the specious theorj^ of
free-trade. The agricultural interest, the colonies, the shipping interest,
the whole kingdom of Ireland were dust in the balance. The enthusiasm
is beginning to evaporate, and men will soon marvel how they ever came
to be under its influence.
8 THE SPIRIT OF SYSTEM.
degree of order, symmetry and simplicity, in the
natural, moral, or political world, than really exists or
can exist. Instead of expanding the mind to the rich
and endless variety and subtilty* of nature or art, it
would contract that variety to the narrow limits of the
human understanding. It finds ready acceptance with
all men ; for it flatters both the pride and the indolence
of human nature. It is much easier to comprehend
and apply a few general rules, than to understand the
comphcated structure and regulations of human society.
Any man may make a parade of knowledge by dogma-
tizing about imaginary general principles, but to master
facts and details, is a long, toilsome, and humbling
Men are not often undeceived who worship a few
general principles, however erroneous. When a man
has grown grey in the honest assertion of doctrines
which he believes to be right — has spent, in the en-
deavour to disseminate them his best years, depends
on them for his reputation and self-approval, — what a
cruel fate, to be undeceived, — to discover that they are
not only erroneous, but mischievous ! Accordingly we
find that erroneous general principles last for a genera-
tion : that to expect an inveterate theorist to abandon
his theories, is as reasonable as to expect him to slay
his children. The seed of truth must be sown in the
fresh and grateful soil of a new generation.
* Subtilitas naturae subtilitatera sensus et intellectus multis partibus
superat. Nov. Org.
THE SPIRIT OF SYSTEM. 9
Lord Bacon* warns us of this tendency of the
human mind to expect a greater degree of order, regu-
larity, and conformity with general rules, than really
exists. t He calls it, in his poetical but most appropri-
* The following observations of Professor Playfair seem espeeially to
deserve the attention of political economists.
" The idols of the trihe, or of the race, are causes of error founded on
human nature in general, or on principles common to all mankind. ' The
mind,' Lord Bacon observes, ' is not like a plain mirror which reflects the
image of things exactly as they are ; it is like a mirror of uneven surface,
which combines its own figure with the figures of the objects it represents.
" Among the idols of this class we may reckon the propensity which
there is in all men to find in nature a greater degree of order, simplicity,
and regularity, than is actually indicated by observation. Thus, as soon
as men perceived the orbits of the planets to return into themselves, they
immediately supposed them to be perfect circles, and the motion in those
circles to be uniform ; and to these hypotheses, so rashly and gratuitously
assumed, the astronomers and mathematicians of all antiquity laboured
incessantly to reconcile their observations.
" The propensity which Bacon has here characterized so well, is the
same that has been, since his time, known by the name of the spmY of
system. The prediction that the sources of error would return, and were
likely to infest science in its most flourishing condition, has been fully
verified, with respect to this illusion, in the case of sciences which had
no existence at the time when Bacon wrote. When it was ascertained by
observation that a considerable part of the earth's surface consists of
minerals disposed in horizontal strata, it was immediately concluded that
the whole exterior crust of the earth is composed, or has been composed,
of such strata continued all round without interruption ; and on this, as
on a certain and general fact, entire theories of the earth have been con-
" There is no greater enemy which science has to struggle with than
this propensity of the mind ; and it is a struggle from which science is
never likely to be entirely relieved, — because, unfortunately, the illusion
is founded on the same principle from which our love of knowledge takes
t Intellectus huraanus ex proprietate sua facile supponit majorem ordi-
10 THE SPIRIT OF SYSTEM.
ate language, an idol, and charges mankind in general,
and philosophers especially, with gross idolatry at its
shrine. Without saying of modern political economy, as
of the city of old, that it is wholly given to idolatry, it
may, without any breach of charity, be doubted,
whether the worship of idols is any where more preva-
lent, or the sacrifices more costly.
Reader ! will you accompany me on a pilgrimage to
the shrines ? Let us essay to visit them, not on the
one hand as blind devotees, nor on the other as reckless
scoffers and iconoclasts, but as unprejudiced and can-
As in all such cases, we shall be overwhelmed with
obloquy. Our understanding and our motives will
both be called in question. If we should be tempted
to recriminate, we will endeavour to resist the temp-
iiem et eequalitatem in rebus quam invenit. Et ciim multa sint in natura
monodica, et plena imparitatis, tamen affingitparallela, etcorrespondentia,
et relativa. quse non sunt. (Nov. Org.)
LET THINGS ALONE. 11
''Let things alone — Laissez faire, laissez passer.''
One of the most common and invincible fallacies is
this — that things are good by nature and spoilt by art.
So said E-ousseau of man as an individual; so many
still say of human society. It is a common error;
most young men fall into it, and are only undeceived
by bitter experience. It is invincible, for, having its
root deep in human nature, it springs again with every
But it is nevertheless an error. Every thing may
be improved by culture. Nothing is so natural as art.
The indigenous sloes and crabs and weeds of England,
when cultivated and improved in orchards and gardens,
are plums and apples and flowers. Man without arti-
ficial culture, without intellectual, moral, religious
education, is a stupid, sensual, ferocious, and disgust-
ing savage. Such is natural uncultivated man, not as
poets paint him, or philosophers imagine him, but as
travellers actually see him. The same human crea-
ture, subjected to early culture, instructed, disciplined,
christianized, is but a little lower than the angels.
J 2 LET THINGS ALONE.
Nor is artificial regulation less necessary to man in
tlie aggregate than to man individually. Life, per-
sonal liberty and inviolability, family, property, repu-
tation, are guarded by laws, complex and artificial, in
proportion to the advanced stage of society. Personal
injuries, if not entirely prevented, are nearly extirpated,
by an artificial system of penal sanctions, and further
diminished in number and intensity by the compensa-
tion which in most cases the injured party is entitled
to exact from the aggressor. The jealous and despotic
supervision and enforcement of the marriage contract
by the state, is the artificial source of the endearing
and humanizing relationships of father and child,
brother and sister, of family duties, family education,
family restraints. Withdraw the interference of the
law, leave things alone, and families no longer exist,
society relapses into barbarism. The institution of
property, the spring of all industry and improvement,
leans entirely on an artificial system of laws, civil and
criminal, defining its limits, protecting its enjoyment,
and securing its peaceable and certain transmission.
The vulgar eye, surveying the surface and admiring
the achievements of modern society, penetrates not to
its anatomy,— to its secret, but complex mecoanism.
Much, that is due to art, is attributed to naiure.
But a still deeper and steadier insight into tne consti-
tution of society, will disclose not only artificial political
arrangements, but commercial and fiscal ones, tend-
ing to the virtue, the happiness, the wealth, the power.
LET THINGS ALONE. J 3
the grandeur and the duration of states. The possi-
bility of such artificial regulations is agreeable to analogy
and conformable to experience. But both analogy
and experience forbid the expectation, that increase of
wealth and its fair and equitable distribution, by the
full, various, and permanent employment of the people,
will flow from the let alone system. On the contrary,
there is too much reason to apprehend that the natural
course of things will here, as elsewhere, be a vicious
one ; that the sum of national wealth will not increase,
as it might be made to increase ; that its distribu-
tion will be imperfect ; that land will be but half culti-
vated ; that employment will be precarious and wages
Let us incline ourselves before the teachings of
What triumphs has the let alone system to shew,
since the world began ? On the other hand, history is
full of the marvellous achievements of industry forced
into artificial channels, by the foresight and power of
Ancient and modern history each present examples
of mankind, by an artificial direction of their industry,
not only assailing and subduing the apparently invin-
cible infecundity of the soil, but compelling it ever
after, to feed generations and sustain the power of
14 LET THINGS ALONE.
What was Egypt by nature ? a sterile and moving
sand. It has been well observed that its pestiferous
river full of black mud, too filthy to slake the thirst
or wash the person, w^as of little use, except to the
rats, the insects, and the hideous reptiles.
Immense labors at length achieved a dominion over
it. Canals, reservoirs, and multiform contrivances for
irrigation, led it at length to every door — the minister
of health, cleanliness, and fertility. Now there was,
and ever since has been corn in Egypt. Ever since,
in spite of bad government under the Pharaohs, the
Persians, the Ptolemys, the Romans, the Caliphs, the
Mamelukes, and the Pachas, it has been the land of
plenty. What would it have been all this while, if
from the slime of the Nile, three thousand years ago, had
crawled forth not crocodiles, but political economists.
Their cry would have been, '^ Don't attempt to
force labor and capital into artificial channels, and at
such an expense to bring into cultivation sterile lands.
Buy at a cheaper rate from your neighbours, the Arabs,
the Nuraidians, the Carthaginians, the Syrians, the
Sicilians. As for your means of purchase, let them
take care of themselves. Lalssezfaire^ laissez passer J'
Ancient Egypt's parallel and antitype, is modern
In Holland, below the level of the sea, and the sur-
face of adjacent rivers and canals, have been created
by human art, fat pastures teeming with flocks and
LET THINGS ALONE. 15
herds, rich artificial garden land, nourishing the in-
dustrious and thriving population of innumerable cities,
towns and villages. The very coast is a fortification
against the ocean, the ancient and natural monarch of
the country. Here he is defied by leagues of artificial
sea banks, — there by miles of granite masonry.
Kivers and canals are made to run many feet above
the level of the country. Armies of indefatigable
windmills are perpetually pumping and draining.
Amsterdam and Rotterdam, populous, opulent, and
splendid cities, rest but on piles driven into the mud.
This concentration of native industry and art on the
most unpromising of soils, resulted not only in agri-
cultural but commercial prosperity. The seventeenth
century saw Holland the greatest of maritime and
commercial powers, under the most enlightened of
governments. When religious bigotry disgraced and
depopulated alike Catholic France and Protestant Eng-
land, the native country of Erasmus and Grotius be-
came the sanctuary of religious liberty. From Holland
English Puritans set sail for North America, and
founded a yet greater state, where the same maxims pre-
vail, and as every where else, with the same results.
From Holland came the power which sustained in Eng-
land itself, not only civil liberty and the Reformation,
but a highly artificial commercial policy, enduring for
a hundred and fifty years, and leading to the grandest
consequences. At this day even we ourselves and our
children beyond the Atlantic, are debtors to the un-
16 LET THINGS ALONE.
scientific and misdirected industry of the Seven United
Compare this artificial legislation in ancient Egypt,
and modern Holland, with the let alone system in
Ireland — the most fertile country under heaven.
We, in the temperate zone have not the rank and
luxuriant vegetation of the tropics. But our rigorous
northern climate, nurtures and matures another pro-
duct, in a perfection nowhere else seen.* Man, in-
tellectual, enterprising, indefatigable, high-spirited
man. Man, born to be the master and the tyrant, not
the slave of surrounding circumstances, as the wretched
and withering superstition of laissez faire would make
him. In the days when the daring genius of Robert
Stephenson can send a Railway train flying across the
Menai Straits, are we to contemplate with indolent and
disgraceful acquiescence not only the ruin of the Irish
aristocracy, gentry and farmers, but the depopulation
of the country, partly by the expatriation of the people,
partly by such human shambles as Kilrush and Skib-
Well may a living French writer and statesman of
incontestable ability and experience,t exclaim of the let
alone system (that system which would always and
everywhere leave labor and capital to their own course,)
* See the late Speech of M. Thiers, ' Sur le regime commercial de
la France.' f Ibid.
LET THIiNGS ALONE. 17
that it is a system of indifference, inaction^ impotence,
But in truth the natural course of commercial affairs
uninfluenced by legislation is impossible. You must
have a revenue : you must have customs and excise
duties. Your fiscal regulations will destroy or create,
will decisively harm or help a hundred sorts of industry.
Will the least harm and the most good surely spring
from the least possible care ? It has been well observed
that you might as well say, " Shoot without taking
aim, and you will be sure to hit the mark.^^
18 ho:je axd foreign trade.
" Foreign commodities are always 'paid for by British
commodities, THEREFORE the purchase of
foreign commodities encourages British industry as
much as the purchase of British commodities." ^
Let us assume the premises to be true, yet the con-
clusion does not follow. Supposing every foreign
commodity imported to be paid for in British com-
modities, it may still be for the interest of the nation
to buy British commodities in preference to foreign. In
other words, home trade is more advantageous than
On this text, hear the apostle of free-trade himself,
Adam Smith. "^'
'' The capital which is employed in purchasing in
'^ one part of the country in order to sell in another
" the produce of the industry of that country, generally
" replaces by such operation two distinct capitals that
^^ had both been employed in the agriculture or manu-
" facture of that country, and thereby enables them to
" continue that employment When both
" are the produce of domestic industrj'^, it necessarily
* See iVrCulloch's Principles of Political Economy, p. 152.
HOME AND FOREIGN TRADE. 19
" replaces by every such operation two distinct capitals,
'^ which had both been employed in supporting pro-
" ductive labor, and thereby enables them to continue
" that support. The capital which sends Scotch manu-
" factures to London and brings back English manu-
" factures and corn to Edinburgh, necessarily replaces,
" by every such operation, two British capitals, which
" had both been employed in the agriculture or manu-
" facturers of Great Britain.
" The capital employed in purchasing foreign goods
" for home consumption, when this purchase is made
" with the produce of domestic industry, replaces too
" by every such operation two distinct capitals, but
" one of them only is employed in supporting domestic
" industry. The capital which sends British goods to
" Portugal, and brings back Portuguese goods to Great
" Britain, replaces by every such operation only one
" British capital. The other is a Portuguese one.
" Though the returns therefore of the foreign trade of
" consumption should be as quick as those of the home
" trade, the capital employed in it will give but one
^•' HALF THE ENCOURAGEMENT TO THE INDUSTRY OR
'^ PRODUCTIVE LABOUR OF THE COUNTRY. >K >1^ *
" A capital, therefore, employed in the home trade,
" will sometimes make twelve operations, or be sent
" out and returned twelve times, before a capital em-
" ployed in the Foreign trade of consumption has made
" one. If the capitals are equal therefore,
^' the one will give four AND TWENTY TIMES
20 HOME AND FOREIGN TRADE.
'' MORE ENCOURAGEMENT AND SUPPORT TO THE IN-
" DUSTRY OF THE COUNTRY THAN THE OTHER." *
What does Adam Smith mean by the expression —
" replace capital ! " It is an expression not to be
passed over in haste, but well deserving to be atten-
tively considered and analysed.
He means, that the whole value of a commodity is
spent in its production, and yet re-appears in the shape
of the new product. That in its production there is
an expenditure not of the profit merely, but of the
entire value,'\ and that tlie whole of that expenditure
not only maintains landlords, tenants, tradesmen and
workpeople, but furnishes an effective deoiand and
market for other productions. He means that the
clear gain, the spendable revenue, the net income cf
the producing nation, is increased by the amount of
the entire value of the domestic product, and that the
nation is so much the richer. For ivhile producing, it
spends, and nevertheless after it has produced, it yet
has the entire gross value.
He then goes on and says, that if with British com-
modities you purchase British commodities, you replace
two British capitals ; but if with British commodities
you purchase foreign commodities, you replace only
one British capital. J That is to say, you might have
* Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations," Book II, chap. 5.
f Say asserts the same thing, as we shall presently see.
t Say maintains the same position. " Le commerce interieur est le
HOME A.ND FOREIGN TRADE. 21
had the entire gross value at both ends to spend, and
thereby also to create and sustain markets; but you
are content to have the value and the market at one
These observations of Adam Smith derive additional
weight from the quarter from which they come. They
are the admissions of the founder of the existing school
of Political economists, on a point of vital importance,
so vital that it affects the entire theory of free-trade.
At the risk therefore of being charged with prolixity
and repetition, I venture to invite the candid and seri-
ous attention of the reader to a further consideration
The entire price or gross value of every home-made
article constitutes net gain, net revenue,* net income
to British subjects. Not a portion of the value, but
plus avantageux. Les envois et les retours de ce commerce sont neces-
sairement les produits du pays. Il provoque une double production."
Liv, i. chap. 9. Vol. 2. p. 6, 4th Edition.
* Say concurs in this view. See Traite' D'Economie Politique, Liv. ii.
chap. V. Vol. II. p. 69, 4th Edition. He analyses the price of a watch,
and shews how the whole of it is distributed as net income or revenue
among those who have contributed to its production. He then ob-
serves. " C'est de cette maniere que la valeur entiere des produits se
distribue dans la societe. Je dis leur valeur toute entiere." He then
gives another illustration, by tracing the distribution of the value of cloth,
and adds, " On ne peut concevoir aucune portion de la valeur de ce drap,
qui n'ait servi a payer UN revenu. Sa valeur toute entiere y a ete em-
ployee." And subjoins in a note, " Meme la portion de cette valeur qui
a servi au retablissement du capital du fabricant. II a use ses metiers par
supposition. II les a fait reparer par un mecanicien : le prix de cette re-
paration fait partie du revenu du me'canicien."
22 HOME AND FOREIGN TRADE.
the whole value ^ is resolvable into net gain, income, or
revenue maintaining British families, and creating or
sustaining British markets. Purchase British articles
with British articles, and you create two such aggre-
gate values, and two such markets for British industry.
Whereas, on the contrary, the entire value of every
foreign article imported is net gain, or income to the
foreigner, and creates and sustains foreign markets.
Change your policy — purchase foreign articles with
British articles, and you now create only one value
for your own benefit instead of creating two, and only
one market for British industry instead of two. You
lose by the change of policy, the power of spending
the entire value on one side, which you might have
had, as well as on the other, and you lose a market
for British industry to the full extent of that expen-
It is not a small difference in price that can com-
pensate the nation for the loss. For example, suppose
England can produce an article for <38100 and can im-
port it for <£99. By importing it instead of producing
it, she gains £1 ; but though she pay for it with her
own manufactures, she loses (not indeed by the ex-
change itself, but by not producing at both ends of
the exchange) £100 of wealth which she might have
had to spend by creating the value at home ; that is to
say, on the balance, she loses £99 which she might
have had in addition, by producing both commodities
HOME AND FOREIGN TRADE. 23
Let us examine a little more in detail the position,
that the entire price or gross value of every home-
made commodity constitutes net national gain or
revenue, — net income to British subjects, such revenue
as a man may spend with his tradesmen, and maintain
his family upon, and yet the nation grow no poorer.^'
Take a quarter of English wheat. Suppose the price
to be 5O5. The whole of this 50^. is resolvable into
net income. A portion, say 5.?., goes as rent to the
English landlord, and is to him net income, which he
may spend with his tradesmen in maintaining his
family. Next 30^. go for wages. Those wages are
the net income of the English labourer. Then IO5. go
for rates and tithes. The first contribute to the net
income of the poor, the second to the net income of
the English Clergyman. Then 2s. 6d. go for imple-
ments of husbandry, the whole of which 2s. 6d. is
also, as we shall presently see, resolvable into net in-
come to some person or other. The residue being
2s. 6d., we will suppose is the net profit of the farmer,
and would be net income to him, but that half of it,
viz.. Is, 3c?., goes as interest to a friend who has lent
him money. This last 1.9. 3d. is, however, still net
* The attention of the reader is particularly invited to this part of the
inquiry. He will observe that the expression ' net income'' comprehends
the spendable revenue of the whole community, from whatever source de-
rived. The net profits of trade are but a part and a very small part of
the net income of the nation. The wages of the labourer are his net income.
The rent of the landlord, and the interest of the mortgagee are also net
24 HOME AND FOREIGN TRADE.
income ; not indeed of the farmer, but of his creditor.
Trace home with stubborn attention^ every penny of
the price, and you will find that every penny at last
assumes the shape of net income. The whole 50^.
therefore, it is manifest, is an addition to the net spend-
able income of the country. The whole 505. answers
two purposes ; first, it maintains the ultimate recipients
and their families ; and, secondly, by means of their
expenditure it creates a home-market to the extent of
the entire gross value or price of the quarter of wheat.
But is the sum of 2s. 6d. which we have just sup-
posed to be spent for agricultural implements, also re-
solvable into net income or revenue ?
It is ! and though we should be still more guilty
of repetition, let us patiently inquire how.
Suppose the 2^. 6d. spent for a spade. It may be
that the money is laid out with the retail ironmonger
in the next market-town. Sixpence we will suppose is
the ironmonger's profit. A second sixpence is the
cost of a wooden handle. That second sixpence is ex-
pended in this way. One fourth of it, or three half-
pence, goes as rent to the owner of the copse from
which the rough wood comes, three-pence go as wages
to the labourers who cut or fashion the wood, and
the remaining three half-pence go as profit to the
dealer in wooden spade-handles. One shilling out of
the 2s. 6d.i the entire price of the spade, is thus traced
back and found to be net income.
The remainder of the price of the spade, viz. Is. 6d.,
HOME AND FOREIGN TRADE. 25
goes for the iron part of it, and has been paid by the
retail dealer in spades to the wholesale dealer in the
iron part of spades. Part of this Is. 6d. is his profit,
part goes to the manufacturer. The manufacturer's
portion, when analyzed, is again resolved into his pro-
fit — his payments for implements or machinery, (also
resolvable into net income,) — his rent — and the cost
price of the iron. The cost price of the iron is, lastly,
paid to the iron-master, and by him distributed to
himself as profit, to his workmen as wages, to his
landlord as rent.
The whole price and value of the spade is thus net
gain or income to some persons or other, available, like
all the rest of the price of a quarter of English wheat,
first, to the maintenance of British families, next
through their expenditure to the creation or mainten-
ance of British markets for cotton, linen, woollen and
hardware, bread, beef, beer, tea, soap, candles, build-
ings, and furniture.
Take any article you please, patiently analyze the
ultimate distribution of its price, and you will find
that the whole gross value denotes the creation of so
much wealth in the nation in which it is entirely pro-
duced, enabling that nation to spend * and enjoy an
* La valeur toufe eniiere des produits sert de cette maniere a payer les
gains des producteurs. Ce n'est pas le produit net seulement, qui
SATISFAIT AUX BESOINS DES HOMMES. C'eST LE PRODUIT BRUT, LA
TOTALiTE DES VALEURS CREES. (Say. Traite' d'e'conomie politique, Liv.
26 HOME AND FOREIGN TRADE.
equivalent to that whole gross value, without being the
poorer for the consumption^ and conferring on that
nation the further advantage of a home market, equiva-
lent to that expenditure.
To express the same truth in a formula, intelligible
and familiar to political economists : The whole gross
price of any article is ultimately resolvable into rent,
profit, or wages. Eent, profit, and wages are national
net income, and create markets where they are spent.
Now suppose a nation which had produced both the
exchanged values at home, or, to use Adam Smith's
expression, had replaced two domestic capitals, should
alter its policy, and should thenceforth import one of
those values from abroad, giving for it the other value
as before, (which we will suppose the foreign nation
ready to take,) that alteration of policy would entail
on the country adopting it, a loss of national net
income equivalent to the entire value of the commodity
formerly produced at home, and now produced abroad,
and the sacrifice of a market to the same amount. Let
us illustrate this by an example.
Suppose stockings to the value of £500,000 a year
are made in Leicester, and exchanged annually for
gloves to the amount of £500,000 a year made in
Dover. The landlords and tradesmen and workmen of
I. Chap. 2, Vol. i. p. 18, 4th Edition.) The careful attention of the reader
is solicited to this passage. Though it be true and accurately expressed,
j-et it must in candour be admitted, that Say, like Smith, is in other parts
of his book inconsistent with bimself.
HOME AND FOREIGN TRADE. Mi
Leicester and Dover enjoy together an annual net in-
come of a million. Suppose now, that for some real
or supposed advantage in price or quality, the Leicester
people, instead of exchanging their stockings for gloves
from Dover, exchange them for gloves from the other
side of the straits, say from Calais, thus depriving the
Dover people of their Leicester market. What is the
consequence ? It is this, that Dover loses what Calais
gets : that England loses and France gains half a million
a year by the new locality of the glove manufacture —
by its transference from England to France. English-
men have half a million a year less to spend, Frenchmen
have half a million a year more to spend. English
markets— of which Dover used to be one — fall off to
the extent of half a million a year ; French markets,
of which Calais is one — are augmented by half a million
The English glove manufacture, with its half million
of national net income, is gone from England, where it
used to maintain Enghshmen and English markets, to
France, where it now maintains Frenchmen, and French
Nor does the mischief end here. On the Dover
glove-makers were dependent Bakers, Millers, Grocers,
Butchers, Tailors, Shoemakers, with their servants
and families. The migration of the glove trade from
Dover to Calais ruins all. They are destroyed like a
hive of bees.
28 HOME AND FOREIGN TRADE.
To make it still clearer. Suppose instead of the
glove trade being transferred from Englishmen to
Frenchmen, the Dover tradesmen and workmen crossed
the straits along with their manufacture to Calais, and
there carried it on ; still, as before, England would
lose half a million a year, and France gain it.
Indeed this latter supposition, though setting the
loss in the clearest light, would of the two supposed
cases, probably be the most advantageous for England,
for if the trade migrated without the people, a nest of
paupers v/ould be left behind.
It is said that the Dover people if left in England
could turn their hands and their capital to some new
employment.* Alas ! this is one of the things easier
said than done. To find employment for the people,
is just the very thing, which is so supremely difficult,
as to be often pronounced impossible. It is the pro-
blem remaining for the true political economist to re-
solve. Its solution will be an event not less brilliant
and far more important to mankind, than the discovery
of the solar system.
Now under a system of free-trade, if the Leicester
people can buy their gloves ] per cent, or a minute
* Mr. McCulloch has here fallen into a transparent error. He says in
his " Principles of Political Economy," (p. 151) that the displaced
artificers would be employed in the production of the articles that must
be sent as equivalents to the foreigner. But that is not so. It is the
Leicester stocking-makers who are employed in producing the equivalents
— but they were employed before. They used to deal with Dover, now
they deal with Calais.
HOME AND FOREIGN TRADE. 29
fraction per cent, cheaper from abroad, they will do so.
By so doing English glove consumers may gain j85, 000
a year, but the nation hands over its glove trade to the
French, and will lose half a million a year, minus five-
thousand pounds, (that is, £495,000 a year of national
net income) by the half million worth of gloves being
now produced in France, instead of being produced
as formerly in England. The English nation also
loses a home market equivalent to its loss of national
net income. What England loses by the migration
of the glove manufacture, France gains. All this may
happen even under a system of reciprocity, without any
disturbance of the currency.
The Leicester people gain no new market by sending
their goods to France ; they had a market to the same
extent before in England. There is no improvement
in the condition of the Leicester people to compensate
for the ruin of the Dover people. Reciprocity itself
therefore in the particular exchange is no compensation
to the English people at large.
What then would be a compensation for the inva-
sion of the English market by foreign goods ?
Nothing short of a corresponding invasion of the
foreign market by English goods. When the French
invade our markets and displace our industry, even
though they should take our goods in payment to the
full amount of their importation, that alone, (as we
have seen,) is no compensation at all. They must over
30 HOME AND FOREIGN TRADE.
and above all this, allow and enable us to invade tbeir
markets and displace their industry to the same extent,
and on the same terms. The Frenchman must not
only provide for the Leicester people, a new foreign
market equivalent to their former home-market at
Dover, but he, or some one else must also find for the
Dover people a second new foreign market, as a sub-
stitute for their lost home-market at Leicester. There
must be not only reciprocity, but complete recipro-
Nothing short of a new double foreign market, —
a foreign market, for both the domestic industries that
used to interchange their products will sufl&ce. This
is admitted by Mr. Ricardo.* And it is the truth, as
a little consideration will evince.
* Mr. Ricardo, in combating Adam Smith's position, that a capital
employed in the home trade, gives twice as much encouragement to the
industry and productive labour of the country, as a capital employed in
the foreign trade — the trade with Portugal for example — makes these
" This argument appears to be fallacious ; for, though two capitals,
one Portuguese and one English, be employed, as Dr. Smith supposes,
still, a capital %vill be employed in the foreign-trade, double of what
would be employed in the home-trade. Suppose that Scotland employs
always a capital of a thousand pounds in making linen, which she ex-
changes for the produce of a similar capital employed in making silks in
England. Two thousand pounds, and a proportional quantity of labour,
will be employed in the two countries. Suppose, now, that England
discovers that she can import more linen from German}^ for the silks which
she before exported to Scotland ; and that Scotland discovers that she can
obtain more silks from France, in return for her linen, than she before
obtained from England— will not England and Scotland immediately
HOME AND FOREIGN TRADE. 31
When two domestic producers mutually exchange
their products^ each makes a market for the other.
But if one, instead of buying as heretofore at home,
cease trading with each other, and will not the home-trade of consumption
be changed for a foreign trade of consumption ? But, although two ad-
ditional capitals will enter into this trade — the capital of Germany and
that of France — will not the same amount of Scotch and English capital
continue to be employed, and will it not give motion to the same amount
of industry as when it was engaged in the home-trade ? " Principles
OF Political Economy, chap. 26.
It will be observed that Mr. Ricardo admits, or more properly speaking
assumes, that if Scotch industry loses its English market because England
buys from abroad, the Island of Great Britain is not compensated by the
foreign-trade unless a double foreign-market can be found ; unless
Scotland can find a foreign market for her linen, as well as England a
foreign market for her silk.
The case may be illustrated by a diagram. The original state of things,
when Scotland sent linen to England, and England sent in return silk to
Scotland, will be thus represented,
1 linen £1000.
( silk £1000.
Great Britain has to spend as rent, profits and wages, £2000.
Now suppose England, instead of purchasing with its silk, linen from
Scotland, purchases, (but still with its silk,) linen from Germany; then
the state of things will be thus represented,
silk £1000. linen £1000.
32 HOME AND FOREIGN TRADE.
now buys abroad, and finds in return a foreign market
abroad, to exactly the same extent as his former
domestic market, that one is compensated. But what
has become of the other ? The other has lost his home
Scotland will have lost its market for linen, and thereby its power of
production and consumption to the extent of £1000. Great Britain will
have lost this £1000. Germany will have gained the £1000 which Great
Britain will have lost.
The opening of the German market to English silk is no compensation
to Great Britain^ for the loss of its Scotch linen manufacture.
Great Britain has now to spend as rent profits and wages, but £1000.
in the place of £2000.
The only adequate compensation to Great Britain for the loss of the
Scotch trade is a double foreign market. Another foreign market, over
and above the foreign market for English silk, must be found for Scotch
linen. Then indeed the state of things would be thus represented,
( Scotland France )
1 linen £1000. silk £1000. f
f silk £1000. linen £1000. >
\ England Germany. '
Thus it appears, that perfect reciprocity itself, at one end of the exchange
only, is no compensation to the nation for dealing abroad instead of at
home. There should be reciprocity at both ends of the exchange, and a
double foreign market must be found.
In other words when you are about to take away one home market, you
must open two foreign ones. You must find a double equivalent.
Mr. Ricardo says that this will be done — that two foreign markets will
be found. But that is to assume (what is contrary to experience) that
the foreign market is always as large as we require it to be. We cannot
even find the siyigle foreign market.
Mr. Ricardo's illustration involves another fallacy. Why should France
buj"- Scotch linen, when, according to the supposition, German linen is
cheaper .P Why should Germany buy English silk, when according to the
supposition, French silk is cheaper ?
HOME AND FOREIGN TRADE. 66
market. To be compensated by foreign trade, this
other also must find a new and co-extensive foreign
So that if you lay out ten millions a year abroad
which you used to lay out at home, you are not com-
pensated by a foreign market to the extent of those
ten millions a year ; you must, in order to compensa-
tion by the' foreign market, find in the aggregate a
new foreign market to the extent of twenty millions
To illustrate this by the former example. You lay
out half a million a year with Calais which you used
to lay out with Dover, but Calais takes your Leicester
stockings in payment. Leicester which used to send
its stockings to Dover, is now compensated for the loss
of its home trade with Dover, by its new foreign trade
with Calais. But this new foreign trade does not com-
pensate Dover. Dover too must find another new
foreign trade to the extent of half a million a year
more, before Dover is compensated. But the nation
is not compensated by the foreign trade, unless both
Leicester and Dover are compensated. When therefore
the nation lays out half a million a year in foreign
gloves, which half million it used to lay out in English
gloves, the nation is not compensated by a new foreign
market of half a million a year. To be compensated
by the foreign market, the nation must find a new
foreign market of a million a year.
The result is, whenever you import instead of pro-
34 HOME AND FOREIGxV TRADE.
ducing, you are losers by the change till your addi-
tional imports double the value of the new import.*
What therefore we set out with venturing to submit^
seems to be correct, viz., that even if the premises
contained in the axiom at the head of these observations
be true, the consequence does not follow.
The truth is this : —
The gross value of every product of industry is na-
tional net income.
When one product is exchanged for another, if -you
have produced at both ends of the exchange, you have
created two such national net incomes. If you now
change your policy, and produce at one end only, and
leave the foreigner to produce at the other end, though
he should fairly exchange with you, you create hut one
national net income, and sacrifice the other.
But if these things are done in the green tree, what
shall be done in the dry ? So far from being able to
find a new double foreign market, we cannot even
find a new single one, commensurate to the enor-
mous increase of our imports. t If such may be the con-
* This loss will, as we have seen, be less by the percentage by which
the foreign article is cheaper than the domestic one.
•\' Those who wish to see the comparative values of the present exports
and imports of the United Kingdom fairly stated, should consult Mr.
Newdigate's last letter to Mr. Labouchere. The labor, the accuracy, and
the candour of that publication will be best appreciated by those who
study it most. The result at which he arrives is, that there is now an
HOME AND FOREIGN TRADE. l>o
sequences where there is reciprocity, what will be the
consequences of free-trade, at once one-ended and one-
sided ; — of exportation of the precious metals to pay
balances j * — of the consequent appreciation of the cur-
rency, augmentation of the pressure of taxation, and
diminution of industry ? The public at present enter-
tain very inadequate conceptions of the devastating
average annual adverse balance of about fifteen millions against this
country. But it may well be doubted whether it be not much larger.
* Political, and many other causes have, at present, contributed to pro-
crastinate inconvenience from this source. English absentees and foreigners
have, through foreign disturbances, been driven to this country by thou-
sands, and their property by millions. Foreign capitalists and bankers
have lodged their funds here for security, or purchased English stock or
other property. Englishmen have sold foreign funds and other foreign or
colonial propertJ^ Lower prices and fewer transactions have liberated and
rendered unnecessary English, Irish, and Colonial currency to a great
extent. There have been great discoveries and unusual supplies of the
precious metals. The very fear of California has released many a hoard.
Neighbouring states have been calling in their gold currency. The bank
of England, which is obliged to buy all the gold that is presented to it,
is full of bullion. But so also is the bank of France, and much fuller.
Yet the commercial barometer, — the rate of exchange indicates distress
at no Qfreat distance.
36 BUY IX THE CHEAPEST MARKET.
" Buy in the cheapest market."
A RECOMMENDATION perfectly sounds provided you
are sure that every one will be fully and permanently
employed in producing the means of purchase. In
that event, to buy in the cheapest market, though it
should be a foreign one, is the manifest pecuniary
advantage of each individual and of the whole com-
But if the foreign market for exports — be (as it
always is,) limited, so that the preparation of exports
will not employ the whole community, the case is at
once changed. To buy in a cheaper foreign market
will still be the immediate interest of individuals, but
it ceases to be even the pecuniary interest of the com-
munity as a whole.
Capital employed in production is spent, yet repro-
duces itself. It feeds, lodges and clothes the industrious
workman with his family, and pays the employer and
* That is to say, regarding immediate pecuniary considerations only,
and disregarding considerations of more moment, such as the variety, the
constancy and security, the salubrity, the moral and political tendency of
the employments of the people.
BUY IN THE CHEAPEST MARKET. 37
the landlord. It constitutes the spendable income of
the nation. Yet having done all this, after being
entirely consumed, it rises again from its ashes in the
shape of the new finished product. We behold in the
place of the spent capital a new and reproduced but
Wherever therefore a commodity is produced by the
aid of capital, two capitals or values are to be re-
garded. There is, first, the capital or value spent and
consumed in production, and there is, secondly, the
capital or value reproduced.
It is the capital spent that remunerates the laborer,
the landlord and the dealer — that pays wages, rent,
and profits. It is, moreover, this spent capital that
creates markets. For it confers on the laborer, the
landlord, and the dealer, the revenue they severally
have to spend.
Every act of domestic production by the aid of
capital, enables a nation to expend safely the whole
value or price of the finished article among laborers,
landlords, and dealers, in the shape of wages, rent, or
profit. This expenditure further creates an entirely
NEW MARKET tO the CXtcnt of the WHOLE PRICE. Yct
the nation is no poorer for the expenditure : for it still
has the finished article of the same value.
The nation or empire therefore that can acquire the
privilege of producing at both ends of the exchange
has the benefit of spending two consumable capitals
instead of one. It pays a double set of laborers.
38 BUY IN THE CHEAPEST MARKET.
dealers^ and landlords. It gets a double amount of
rent, profits, and wages to spend. It doubles its net
income. It doubles its home markets for all other
Suppose an agricultural and manufacturing nation
to require an extraordinary supply of ten millions of
quarters of wheat. At first it grows them at home, but
afterwards learns that they can be imported cheaper
from abroad. It resolves to buy in the cheapest mar-
ket, and henceforth to import instead of growing them
In place therefore of growing ten millions of quarters
of wheat at home, where they wall cost 505. per quarter,
(and we will suppose cannot be grown for less,) it im-
ports them from abroad, whence they cost but 40.?. a
This quantity of ten millions of quarters grown at
home, used to cost the community at the rate of 50^.
per quarter, or in the aggregate twenty-five millions
sterling. The same quantity, being imported from
abroad, now costs at the rate of 405. per quarter, or
but twenty millions sterling.
Let us balance the national profit and loss.
The nation in the aggregate gains five millions a
year by importing instead of growing.
Now what does the nation lose by the change.
* The bearing of the modern theory of rent on this question (as well
as that theory itself,) the reader will find discussed hereafter.
BUY IN THE CHEAPEST MARKET. 6)J
The amount of the loss will depend on whether a
new and permanent foreign market for manufactures
to the extent of twenty millions a year can be found.
First let us suppose that it can be found.
The manufacturers gain thereby nothing beyond what
they had before. They used to send their goods to
English corn-growers. They now send them to foreign
corn-growers. Their market is rather diminished than
increased^ for there is less and not more to lay out with
But the English corn-growers lose twenty-five millions
a year by the corn being grown abroad, instead of being
grown in England.
Supposing therefore a new foreign market for manu-
facturers found, to ^the full extent of the additional
quantity of corn introduced from abroad, the nation
gains by the change five millions a year and loses
twenty-five. It is, on a balance, a loser of twenty
millions a year.
But this twenty millions a year, which was the in-
come of British farmers, now forms the income of
Foreign farmers. It will soon represent an agricultural
capital of some hundred millions more or less — formerly
British property, now Foreign property.
Next suppose this new foreign market for manufac-
turers CANNOT be found.
Then the nation loses at both ends : it loses both
the twenty-five millions a year which the corn- growers
used to produce, and the twenty-five millions of manu-
40 BUY IN THE CHEAPEST MARKET.
facturers also. For the corn and manufactures used
mutually to find a market for each other, and so cause
each other's production. It can now no longer produce
at either end. Nor can it buy from abroad ; for the
exportation of specie cannot continue. But suppose it
could, the nation sacrifices fifty millions to gain five.
It loses on a balance forty-five millions a year by the
change of policy.*
There is not, as in the former case a transfer of in-
come and capital at one end only of the exchange from
the Englishman to the foreigner, but a destruction of
English income and English capital at both ends.
* In strictness, four capitals have been engaged where an exchange
Two CAPITALS are to be considered in production. First the capital
spent in producing, next the new capital produced. It is the capital
SPENT which forms the income of the producers. This is the capital that
pays rent, profit, and wages. This capital creates markets. The new
capital produced, enables you to spend the other without loss. The new
capital also, as well as the consumed capital creates markets.
When therefore two productions are mutually exchanged, four capitals
are engaged. Two spent capitals, one consumed on each side, paying
rent, profit, and wages, and creating markets. Two new reproduced
capitals, enabling the two other capitals to be entirely spent without loss,
and also themselves mutually creating markets for each other.
Where therefore the exchange of two domestic productions takes place,
two sums together equivalent to the gross value of the products on both
sides are national net income. Two home markets are opened by the ex-
penditure of those two capitals in rent, profit, and wages, together equiva-
lent to the gross value of both. Two other new home markets are also
opened by the two new reproduced capitals. Each forms a home market
for the other. You create by this process two national net incomes, and
you open four home markets.
Now if you interpose an obstacle to the mutual exchange of the two
BUY IN THE CHEAPEST MARKET. 41
Forty-five millions a year of net income have dis-
appeared from among the people, and the home-market
has been destroyed to the extent of forty-five millions
a year. Consumers and producers are alike the victims.
Let us further attempt to illustrate these matters by
the present condition of the United Kingdom.
You have had, and yet have, the first agriculture in
the world, but at once highly artificial, and heavily
The English cultivator has to deal, not indeed with
new reproduced capitals, j'ou may thereby destroy the market which
those two new reproduced capitals used mutually to provide for each
other, and stop production on loth sides. The nation then loses the op-
portunity of consuming, without loss, as national net income, both the
capitals that otherwise would have been spent, and it moreover loses both
the markets, or rather both the series of markets which those two con-
sumable capitals, if spent, would have created.
The expression series o/marJcets may invite reflection, and lead to some
difficult and recondite inquiries.
For the acquisition or loss of a market is a benefit or injury not stop-
ping with itself ; but extending to an indefinite and incalculable extent.
Part of the capital spent in production pays wages. This payment
makes a market for labor. A portion of the wages so received, buys, we
will suppose, a bed. The very same value which has just found a market
for labor, now finds a market for the Upholsterer. The Upholsterer
spends part of the self-same sum with the Butcher, and so finds him a
market. The Butcher does the same for the Baker. The Baker for the
Brewer. The Brewer for the Blacksmith, and so on ad infinitum. Create
one market and you create others, and stimulate and nourish production
in an infinite series.
So on the other hand, the loss of a market is felt and propagated through
a similar series. Market after market fails — production after production
ceases. The whole structure of industry was a house of cards — touch one,
and the whole falls.
42 BUY IN THE CHEAPEST MARKET.
an ungrateful soil, but yet with a moderately fertile
and easily exhaustible soil, in an uncertain climate. If
cultivation is to be maintained at its existing level, a
large and constant outlay for manure and labor is in-
dispensable. Suppose even that the cultivator pays no
rent at all ; he is yet bowed down with tithe or its
equivalent, (a tenth not of the profit but of the gross
produce), poor-rates, highway-rates, church-rates,
county-rates, land-tax, house-tax, assessed-taxes, to say
nothing of taxes whose incidence is doubtful, like the
malt-tax and hop-tax, and other indirect taxes.
Look at the cultivator of the vast and fertile plains
in the South of Russia.* He knov/s nothing of tithe,
rate, or tax. The soil for hundreds of square leagues
is a rich and deep mould. The climate fine, the
latitude the South of France. The outlay for wages
nothing. For the great proprietor is the owner of
serfs, whose labor, four days in the week, the law
gives him for nothing, he finding a diet coarser and
cheaper than the fare of Negro slaves. Cultivation is
superficial ; manure never used. The land is so bound-
less, and population so thin, that the grower does not
even sow in the same place above once in fifteen or
twenty years. On the spot therefore, his corn costs
him little ; no matter how low the price, he can still
afford to grow and sell.
* The public are indebted for the publication of these facts to M.
Thiers ; who states them on the authority of those who have actually
lived in the South of Russia, and know the soil and the people well.
BUY IN THE CHEAPEST MARKET. 43
But then, we are told to look at the expense of car-
raige to Odessa or Sebastopol. Here again, our
narrow English notions mislead. It is true, the corn
comes from a circuit of five hundred miles, but in
this manner. The wheat is loaded on rough carts with
wooden axles, and whole wooden wheels without
spokes, each cart drawn by a pair of oxen. A bag of
meal is the whole allowance of food for the driver.
Off sets the primitive equipage on a month's journey ;
at night it halts by the side of some brook^ the oxen
are unyoked and turned off to feed in the plain ; the
serf or mougick goes to his bag, boils for supper some
meal flavoured with dried herbs, and stretches himself
on the ground to sleep. When at length he gets the
corn to Odessa, he sells the oxen at a profit to the
butcher, and his cart for fire-wood. Then turning his
face to his own country, he walks home in a week.
The sale of the oxen and the cart may be sufficient not
only to pay the expenses of transport, but even to
leave a surplus.
Arrived at the ports of the Black Sea^ Russian
vessels navigated by sailors, whose fare is nearly as
economical as that of the mougick, may carry the corn
at a low freight to England and Ireland, and (what is
more to the purpose) to France. Low as the freight is
to London, it is much lower to Marseilles. The French
Corn Laws admit the Russian corn on condition that a
corresponding amount of flour is exported from France.
Here is a perennial source of the increasing, inexhaus-
44 BUY IN THE CHEAPEST MARKET.
tible, and overwhelming imports of French flour, — flour
better than ours can be made — grown and ground in a
better climate. Hence the industry not only of our culti-
vators, but even of our millers, English and Irish, is
being rapidly superseded, or more properly speaking,
transplanted. It is as if large bodies of our farmers
and millers fled with their all, to Russia and France.
But Russia and France are only two out of twenty
competitors. And what do you get in return ? So far
from that complete reciprocation, which we have seen
to be essentia], you have not even partial reciprocity.
What practically happens here is this.
You import from abroad an immense quantity of
corn and meal of all sorts. And although (as we have
shewn) a corresponding and equivalent increase in
your exports would be no shadow of compensation to
the nation, for growing and grinding corn abroad in-
stead of growing and grinding it at home or in the
colonies, you have not even that shadow of a shade.
Nay you think yourselves fortunate, if you have an
increase of your exports much less than the increase of
your imports. England prefers to her own sons the
farmers and millers and labourers of Russia, America,
France, Denmark, Holland, Germany. She is gradually
endowing them with huge masses of her own agricul-
tural capital. She nurses in foreign soils, an agricul-
ture which will be the strength and riches, no longer
of England, but of those foreign lands. No national
resources are half so valuable or permanent as the
improvement of our common and grateful mother earth.
BUY IN THE CHEAPEST MARKET. 45
But what is done to England^s own children ?
The price of corn falls to such an extent, that agri-
culture, the first and greatest of arts, can no longer be
conducted on the same extensive improved and produc-
tive scale as formerly. With the prices of a hundred
years ago, you may scratch the ground as you did a
hundred years ago, but you cannot have the modern
agriculture of the Lothians.
The loss first lights on the greatest of all producers
— on the tenant-farmers throughout the land. In
England they have to bear tithes, poor-rates, church-
rates, highway and county-rates, and a load of indirect
taxation. All these taxes are really national burthens.
A moderate import duty on corn, throws them on the
nation at large, who ought to bear them ; the removal
of that duty throws them back on the occupiers of
land. The tenant-farmers throughout the land, from
Plymouth to Thurso, from St. David^s to Norwich, are
at one fell blow crushed and ruined. Paley truly says,
" The greatest misfortune of a country is an indigent
tenantry." We are moreover to remember, that the
capital here in jeopardy, is a capital in comparison with
which the capital of such trades as the glove-trade, or
even the cotton trade itself is a trifle. A capital of
hundreds of millions is at stake.*
* The agricultural capital, fixed and circulating, of the United Kingdom
(independentl}' of the land) has been estimated at three hundred and
FORTY MILLION STERLING. The capital, fixed and circulating, engaged
n the cotton manufacture, at forty millions.
46 BUY IN THE CHEAPEST MARKET.
The nation is now eating up that vast capital^ and reck-
lessly scattering it abroad. Like a family of unnatural
children, carousing on the slaughter and plunder of the
authors alike of their existence and their wealth.
Through the diminution of the farmers' means of
employment, the curse settles next on the innocent and
helpless agricultural labourers, with their wives and chil-
dren. Landlords, shopkeepers, manufacturers^ artisans
in their turn, successively suffer, and spread the loss.
Nor does the mischief stop here. Other commodities
which have lost their market will to that extent cease
to be produced. And by that cessation not only will
the subsistence of the people disappear, but other mar-
kets will be injured^ and so the mischief will go on and
be felt through every grade of society, and in every
department of industry.
Nor does the evil stop even here. One-sided free-
trade raises the value of money and sinks prices, even
in the face of California. The public creditor, the
public servant, the mortgagee, the private creditor, for
every bushel of wheat he received before, receives now
a bushel and a half, and all other things in proportion.
The national debt and the taxes are really augmented,
at the very crisis when men are least able to bear them.
In vain will the price of bread have declined, the means
of purchase possessed by the producing classes, will
have declined infinitely more.
The mischief will go on, not only to the impoverish-
BUY IN THE CHEAPEST MARKET. 47
ment, but — if this suicidal policy be persevered in, — •
to the very depopulation of the country.*
Men will find, that for some mysterious and unac-
countable reason, they cannot get a living. They will,
with the present facilities of locomotion, be tempted to
desert their native country. But it is the healthy, the
industrious, the thrifty, the enterprizing, that will go ;
the halt, the old, the debauched, the pauper, will be
left behind, not to bear, but to swell, the national bur-
thens, and ensure the national degradation.
This sort of emigration re-acts again on the national
wealth, and still further diminishes it. For such
emigrants take out not only their industry and skill,
but their property. Ireland has already reached this
point. England and Scotland are approaching it.
And all this mischief and ruin are perpetrated, while
there exist in England, Scotland, Ireland, and the
Colonies and dependencies, the neglected means of
producing within the empire supplies of food of all
kinds at a moderate rate, superabounding and all suf-
ficient, not only for the existing population, but for an
infinitely larger one. Means, not only ample to fill
every mouth, but to employ every idle pair of hands in
the most natural, healthy, virtuous, and contenting of
occupations. Means, not only of procuring plenty of
cheap bread, but (what is much more important) of
putting into every man's hand wherewithal to buy it.
* The returns of the last census were made long after this passage was
48 BUY IN THE CHEAPEST MARKET.
It is said, that all the capital and labor displaced by
the invasion of foreign industry will necessarily find
other and more profitable employment.
Let us dissect this bold assertion, and compare each
portion of it with the facts.
Take first the displaced capital. Unhappily the
wretched condition of capital, seeking employment and
finding none, is not only not uncommon in this coun-
try, but it is one of our notorious social miseries.
The competition of capital for employment is here so
intense, that the profits of trade are already every
where driven down below a living standard. The
anxious father is afraid to place his son in trade. His
experienced eye descries, through the low profits and
the bad bebts, the vista that conducts straight to
bankruptcy. Want of employment for capital, and the
consequent low rate of profit, necessarily next super-
induce a low rate of interest. Accordingly we find
capital lent on discounts at the rate of 1| per cent, per
annum ; and the 3 per cent, consols sometimes at par.
Ever and anon the impatience of the capitalist, to find
at least some employment for his idle capital, bursts
through the restraints of prudence. Now you have
loans, (many of which turn out to be gifts) to foreign
states, and little bankrupt republics; next you have joint-
stock companies, not only ruining their projectors, but
engulphing the public and their property. Such is the
want of employment that awaits any circulating capi-
tal displayed by the invasion of foreign industry. Much
BUY IN THE CHEAPEST MARKET. 49
worse is the doom o^ fixed capital so superseded. Its
value evaporates at once ; or, if any value remain^ it is
eaten up by poor-rates.
Nay, the insuperable difficulty, the absolute impossi-
bility, of finding profitable employment for vast masses
of capital is so undeniable, that it has driven some
political economists into the paradox of asserting that
there is too much capital in these islands. That is the
same thing as saying that we possess too many val-
uable things. That there are, in the aggregate, too
many houses and buildings ; too much improved and
cultivated land ; too many docks, harbors and ships ;
too many railways and locomotives ; too many spades,
ploughs, looms and steam-engines ; too much wheat,
barley, oats, cotton, wool, iron, timber, leather, hemp,
tea, coffee, sugar, specie, oxen, sheep, pigs, horses and
vehicles. For it is the aggregate of such visible and
tangible things that constitutes the national capital.
To say that we are distressed because we have too much
capital, is to say, that we are so poor, because we
are so rich. But to say that we have much more capi-
tal than we can productively employ ; or in other words,
that vast masses of capital do not, and cannot find pro-
ductive employment is, alas ! too true.
Precisely what we have not got, and sorely want,
yet cannot get, is this — sufficient employment for our
capital, the power of bending it to reproductive uses.
To tell us therefore that capital displaced will neces-
sarily find, not only employment, but more profitable
50 BUY IN THE CHEAPEST MARKET.
employment than before, is to bandage cm* eyes with
a theory. A ghmpse of the real facts discloses the
transparent emptiness of the assertion.
Why should this certain and more profitable employ-
ment of displaced capital be to be found ?
T^Tiere is it to be found ?
How is it to be found ?
When is it to be found ?
Will not displaced moveable capital that can find no
profitable employment in England, migrate ?
Will not vast masses of capital be destroyed ?
These are the searching interrogatories with which,
in every case, the practical man, whose capital has been
displaced, or destroyed, will cross-examine the pohtical
Learned professor ! You are now expected to an-
swer these questions. Not with great names and au-
thorities — not with empty promises — not with theories
— not with wind. But if not with facts, at least with
certainties. What you take away is an enormous
aggregate value, and a certainty. Your compensation
must not be a phantom.
But even this is not all. If space sufficed, it would
not be difficult to shew, that the injudicious displace-
ment of any portion of the national capital is not only
a wound that will not cure itself, but a gangrene and
leprosy, threatening other portions of it.
So much for the first branch of the assertion, viz.
that displaced capital will necessarily find other and
more profitable employment.
BUY IN THE CHEAPEST MARKET. 51
Let us now look at the other branchy viz. that dis-
placed labor will necessarily find other and more pro-
The union v\^ork -houses, and the poor-rates in Eng-
land, Scotland and Ireland, afi'ord but too solid and
satisfactory an answer.
The Dorsetshire laborers, the Spitalfields weavers,
and the Irish poor, re-echo the refutation.
Nor is it labor of the lowest order only that vainly
craves employment. Let a clerkship in a bank, or at
a railway station be vacant, straightway you have five
The difficulty, amounting as yet to an impossibility,
of finding employment for the population, is the plague
not only of this country, but of all old Europe.
To say therefore that labor which has been de-
prived of employment, will necessarily not only find
it, but find more or better than it lost, is to fly in the
face of the best-established and universal facts. It is to
presume on the indolent credulity of the public.
Then it is said, if home trade will not necessarily
employ displaced capital and labor, foreign trade will.
But we have already shewn that if you buy abroad,
what you formerly produced at home, you must in
order to compensation find a double foreign market.
But the facts are, that so far from finding a double
foreign market, you cannot even find a single one.
In one sense indeed this objection is true, but capa-
52 BUY IX THE CHEAPEST MARKET.
ble of being retorted with damaging effect. Foreign
trade will perhaps find employment for capital and labor,
but it will find it abroad and not here. It is but too
true that not only labor, but capital which survives the
shock, and can extricate itself from the spreading and
universal ruin, will fly to some foreign country, where
capital is cherished and protected.
It will next be said, that however it may be with
particular nations, if all countries practised free-trade,
the world at large would be a gainer.
But, first, that is not the question. The question
is, must every nation be a gainer. Must we, as you
say we must, necessarily be gainers, should such an
Utopia be found.
And, secondly, if it were the question whether the
world at large would be a gainer by such a system,
it must not be assumed that the true answer would be
in the affirmative ; some reasons, out of place here,
will presently be adduced, tending to evince that the
true answer would be in the negative.
But, lastly, when the world at large agrees to practise
universal free-trade, it will be time enough to discuss
what the effect on the policy of this country should be.
The discussion may be postponed without much incon-
venience for two thousand years — i.e. till the year 3850.
Then it will be said, — If protection be good for a
country, for the same reasons, it may be sometimes
good for a county or a department.
BUY IN THE CHEAPEST MARKET. 53
And suppose it should sometimes be so, as possibly
it might : — The question is, what is for the advantage
of the WHOLE NATION ? There may be good reason
for a government insisting on a county or a depart-
ment foregoing an advantage, for the sake of equal or
greater benefits to other counties or departments of the
same nation ; and yet no reason at all for a government
insisting that its own people at large, should give up
an advantage for the sake of foreign nations.*
Lastly, it is objected, that according to these prin-
ciples, England should grow wine in hot-houses, though
it would cost thirty times as much as foreign wine.
Not at all. The moment the price of the domestic
commodity exceeds by a large proportion the price of
the corresponding foreign one, the main reason for
producing at home ceases.
Take the supposed case of wine. Assume that it
would cost jSIOO to produce in England wine that
would cost, from abroad only £3. By importing instead
of growing it, you could lose but <^100, and must gain
£97. You could lose but £3, at the outside, even sup-
posing the whole of your wine-producing land, labor,
and capital, utterly and for ever thrown out of employ-
ment. You can actually afford to throw away 97 per cent
of your former wine-growing capital ; you are insured
to that extent. Suppose that 50 per cent of this
capital is destroyed, you are still an actual gainer of
* See this question also more fully discussed hereafter.
54 BUY IN THE CHEAPEST MARKET.
47 per cent by^ importing wine from abroad, instead of
producing it at home. Moreover an article of luxury,
superfluity, and partial consumption (like wine in En-
gland,) could employ but a very small proportion of
the capital of the country, so that the whole of what is
set at liberty has a much better chance of employment.
In a word, the gain is large and certain ; the risk is
small, and such as it is, it affects but a small value.
Hence luxuries and superfluities, for whose production
the soil and climate of a country are unfit, are the true
and legitimate subjects of foreign trade.
If the views advocated in this and the last preceding
chapter be correct, we may expect to see countries
where protection has existed rich and flourishing, and
countries where it has not existed, poor, stationary or
And this, as we shall presently see, is exactly what
we do behold. Not that they, who are blinded by
theorj^, will see it. For of them it may truly be said,
'' Eyes have they, but they see not.-"
WHICH POLICY DIFFUSES INDUSTRY ? 55
" If all countries practised free-trade, all countries
tuoidd be gainers."
By dint of perpetual repetition, without contradiction,
this asserton is almost universally believed. It is even
assumed without proof, as an axiom, or self-evident truth.
But if the candid reader will suspend his judgment till
he has pondered the evidence on the other side, per-
adventure he may be induced to doubt it very much.
Nay, it is possible that he may arrive at the opposite
conclusion. He may be convinced that a protective
policy is not only eminently conducive, but absolutely
necessary to the diffusion of industry and wealth, over
the surface of the globe, and that the absence of arti-
ficial regulations tends to concentrate both in a few
favoured spots, and to leave the greater portion of the
earth, and the majority of mankind without either.
There are some few countries in the world which
enjoy peculiar facilities for the production of particular
commodities : such as the south of France, for wine ;
Cuba, for sugar ; some districts of England, for coals
and iron. But the immeasurably greater portion of
56 WHICH POLICY
the surface of the habitable globe consists of countries
moderately — and but moderately — adapted for the
production even of the necessaries and comforts of life,
of food, clothing and lodging. These countries can,
in every single article that they produce, be surpassed
and undersold by some country or other.
Put the case of such a country, with moc^erate facili-
ties for the production of most things, with eoctraor-
dinary facilities for the production of nothing. It can
grow wheat, but not so cheap as Poland ; it can grow
wine, but not so cheap as Prance or Spain; it can
manufacture, but not so cheaply as England.
Pirst imagine that country under a system of pro-
tection, so strict as to be jealous, and if you please,
injudicious. The nation cultivates the land, and works
up the produce. It creates wealth at both ends of the
exchange. Its manufactures exchange with its agricul-
tural products. Native industry can and does supply
it with the necessaries and comforts of life. A nume-
rous population may be employed, fed, clothed and
lodged. Industry and plenty reign. All this may be,
and is, done under great natural disadvantages both
of soil and climate. Human art and industry triumph
nevertheless over every obstacle, and can raise, as in
the case of Holland, a great and powerful state in a
morass. Foreign trade will in the end be introduced,
supplying luxuries and carrying away superfluities.
Now imagine that country under a universal system
of free-trade and unrestricted imports. Except in a
DIFFUSES INDUSTRY ? 57
few favoured spots_, it cannot grow wheat ; for Poland
will be able to undersell it, not only in foreign markets,
but in its own. It cannot manufacture ; for in cottons,
hardware, woollens, and other products of manufac-
turing industry, England can undersell it abroad and
at home. It cannot grow wine, for France or Spain
can everywhere undersell it. Neither can it continue
to import its corn, its manufactures, or its wine from
abroad, for its own industry being superseded and
smothered, it has nothing to give in exchange. It be-
comes then in this condition ; it can neither grow or
make for itself, nor yet buy from abroad. It goes
without, or if not entirely without, it is scantily and
wretchedly supplied.* A starving and ragged popula-
tion derive a wretched and precarious subsistence from
half-cultivated land. It has neither domestic industry
nor foreign trade.
Such is the natural capability of nine-tenths of the
countries in the world. They enjoy moderate facilities
for the production of every thing necessary for the
sustenance of a population ; extraordinary facilities for
the production of little or nothing. With a generally
diffused system of protection, concentrating the indus-
try of each country on its own soil and indigenous
materials, industry flourishes, wealth increases, popu-
lation multiplies throughout the globe. But without
such artificial regulations, population, industry and
* Like Ireland which for many A^ears has had perfectly free-trade with
the greatest commercial country in the world.
08 WHICH POLICY
wealth have a tendency to concentrate and confine
themselves to certain favoured spots. There indeed
they flourish, but over the vast area of the world at
large they have a tendency to dwindle and decay.
Protection, instead of being, as has been represented
a blight on universal industry, is a system of universal
irrigation, diffusing industry, where industry would
otherwise never have flowed, and making even the
Suppose France were insane enough to repeal the
laws protecting the manufactures of cotton and hard-
ware, where would be the industry of the Banks of the
Seine, of Rouen and Elboeuf ? What would become
of the thriving population of Tourcoing and Roubaix,
and Mulhausen and St. Etienne ? Manchester and
Birmingham and Glasgow and Sheffield would prostrate
all, and turn the banks of the Seine and half of the
thriving towns of France into a desert. But the loss
to France would be so enormous, that her power
of purchasing would be well nigh destroyed. We
should eventually gain little, in comparison with the
prodigious loss of France. Then, England might
flourish ; but France, except in her wine-districts,
would be a desert. Now, both flourish, and industry
What France will never do, Ireland has done, or
rather England has compelled her to do. The Act of
Union provided for the gradual and total extinction of
the then existing protection to Irish manufactures
DIFFUSES INDUSTRY ? 59
against English ones. The measures of 1846 with-
drew protection from Irish agriculture.
Mark the result !
According to received theories, it is immaterial^
though the cotton-grower live live thousand miles
from the cotton-spinner and v/eaver, and the farmer
as far from the miller, baker^ or consumer.
But a careful examination will discover immense
advantages in the mutual vicinity of various producers.
Let the farmer, the Hax-grower, the gardener, live
close by the miller, the wool manufacturer, the linen
manufacturer, and then the cultivator finds at his own
door, a sure market, not only for his corn, hay, wool,
cheese, flax, hops, but for his more perishable articles,
his beef, mutton, and pork, not salted and half-spoilt,
but fresh, for his poultry, eggs, fruit, and fresh butter.
The manufacturer finds all round and near him, not a
speculative, but an explored market for coats, shirts,
gowns, and stockings. Nay^ the very filth and ordure
of the neighbouring town, create the fertility and
beauty of the adjacent country.
Agriculture, manufactures, and trade, no longer
merely fringe the seashore and the rivers, but penetrate
into the interior, and add a solid and tenfold value,
to the most retired and inaccessible glens.
But it is not merely every square inch of territory, and
the products of every industry down to its very refuse,
that are thus all utilized by mutual vicinity. In her
60 WHICH POLICY
human creatures as well as in her other animals and
plants, great nature everywhere luxuriates in variety.
In every place she presents you not only with the
young, the old, the middle-aged, of both sexes, but
with every variety and combination of bodily and
mental capacity and iuaptitude. The variety of the
occupations open to the people, utilizes all human gifts
and talents. Let agricultural and manufacturing in-
dustry flourish side by side, and you have everywhere
occupation fit for every body. There is appropriate
employment for stolid strength, for manual skill and
dexterity, for inventive genius, for the active and the
sedentary, for childhood as well as youth and mature
age, nay, even for caducity and decrepitude.
Every body's industry instead of superseding, furthers
and helps the industry of everybody else. Each
country thus gains that double set of producers, that
double production of wealth, that double set of home
markets, which, as we have seen, are everywhere in-
sured by the reduplicative operation of the home trade.
The framework of industry, compact, self-supporting,
all-embracing, knit, morticed, and clamped together,
not only defies, but moderates even the storm of poli-
tical convulsion. Industry is thus not only spread
over all lands, but distributed to all persons and per-
petuated to all time.
But, besides natural disadvantages, there are tem-
porary and accidental ones, against which it is neces-
DIFFUSES INDUSTRY ? 61
sary that the industry of many countries should be
What will be in the highest degree advantageous
and profitable to the next generation, or even a few
years hence, is not so now. Immense future gain may
require a present and temporary sacrifice. Individuals
will never make that sacrifice; private enterprize looks
only to the present, or at farthest, to the next year or
two. It is public wisdom alone which must overrule
this blind cupidity, and provide for the future, and for
generations yet in the womb' of time, by artificially
directing industry into those channels which will be
ultimately and permanently beneficial. Such was, as
we have seen, the public wisdom of ancient Egypt and
modern Holland ; such was the wisdom of Lord Bur-
leigh, and Cromwell, of Colbert, and Napoleon. Such
was the wisdom of Peter the Great ; such is still the
traditional wisdom and inflexible policy of his suc-
cessors. Contemplate the grand result. Over the im-
mense extent of Russia, all the industries of all nations
are beginning to thrive. Silently and deeply are being
laid the foundations of an independent and self-suffic-
ing power, before which, (when our vain theories are
forgotten,) all the earth will admire and tremble.
One of these temporary and accidental disadvantages
is the necessary and invariable inferiority of infant
manufacturing industry. No matter that the infant is
capable of soon becoming not only a man, but a giant.
62 WHICH POLICY
If not protected during infancy, he will languish and
Established manufactures enjoy the factitious advan-
tages of great capital, skill and experience. Production
on a large scale in immense quantities, creates a
cheapness which unprotected infant establishments
elsewhere— though their natural advantages may be
much greater — cannot rival. They are smothered as
soon as they are born. Accordingly all manufactures,
however great, have been and ever must be, cradled in
protection. Go to the Great Exhibition and find, if
you can, those that were not. So far from protection
producing monopoly, it is protection alone that can
prevent the first established manufactures from enjoy-
ing an unjust and undeserved monopoly. It is pro-
tection alone that can establish a wholesome rivalry, or
even secure the certain development of manufactures,
where there are the greatest natural advantages.
Naj^, this is a case where protection is essential to
ultimate cheapness as well as plenty. Mr. Burke's
maxim is here no paradox, — ^' Make things dear,^^ says
he, '^that they may be cheap."
But it is not only new states, or new industries that
require protection for their development, old states,
and old industries sometimes require it, for the preser-
vation and very existence of their most valuable industry.
In old countries, the land which cannot run away,
ever has been, and ever will be, the obvious and conve-
DIFFUSES INDUSTRY ? 63
nient subject of taxation; the sure resource of the
minister of Finance in the crisis of the state. Accor-
dingly^ in England^ we see it loaded with tithe, land-
tax, income-taXj hop-tax, malt-tax, poor-rates^ church-
ratesj highway-rates, county-rates. So in France, it is
crushed under an immense weight of direct taxation.
If by a protecting duty the price of corn is raised to a
corresponding amount^ and no more, then these taxes
fall where they ought to fall on the nation at large.
But if not, corn comes in from new or more fertile
countries, where it is only necessary to scratch the soil,
and the price consequently fallings huge tracts of the
old country, become unprofitable under tillage, and are
smitten with an artificial barrenness. The people lose a
large portion of their natural and healthy employment ;
the independence of the state is compromised, the
stamina and physical vigour of the race itself is touched.
Moreover, the truest gain of every country is ample
wages to the labourer. The labouring classes are the
NATION. They are the producers, and they are, more-
over, the greatest consumers. Their expenditure m^kes
the great home-market.
But in the fierce struggle of universal competition,
extending over the whole earth, the remuneration of
the labourer must be everywhere beaten down to the
level of the worst paid labourers in the world, whether
freemen or slaves. The industrious and virtuous
English workman must starve, unless he will consent
64 WHICH POLICY
to be, with his wife and children, as badly fed, clothed,
and lodged as the most wretched of his competitors.
It is a struggle which shall descend nearest to the
condition of the beasts.
But it is objected, if unregulated exchanges are
good, between two provinces of the same country, why
not also between different countries ? If they are good
between the Pas de Calais and the Department of the
North, between Suffolk and Norfolk, why are they not
good also between France and England, or between
Germany and England ?
This objection is an example of tliat reckless and
headstrong gfenerahzation, which, to carry out a theory,
will overlook or overleap broad distinctions.
First, suppose that one province should lose, and
another province of the same country gain, what is
that to the country of which they are both members ?
Its aggregate gain is exactly the same. But, suppose
France or Germany to lose, and England to gain by
unregulated exchanges, this is all very well for England,
but not for France or Germany.
But there are good reasons why, in ordinary cases,
two provinces of the same country will both gain by
free and unregulated exchanges, though of two coun-
tries, politically and geographically distinct, either or
both might lose.
An extensive area of mutual exchange is essential
to production on a large scale.
DIFFUSES INDUSTRY ? 65
The taxation, the climate, the soil, the style of living,
the rate of wages, being very much alike in two pro-
vinces of the same country, neither province is matched
unfairly against its neighbour.
There is still that mutual vicinity of consumers and
producers which, as we have seen, is essential to
variety of employment, to the utilization of all products
and of all hands.
But there is a distinction between an extensive area
for unregulated exchanges and an unlimited one. An
extensive area is essential to the developement of pro-
duction on a large scale^ and at a cheap rate ; but an
unlimited one is not. On the contrary, an unlimited
one endangers the security and certainty of the home
market, and the wages of the labourer. Various Ger-
man States have recently greatly augmented their
mutual industry by joining the Zolverein. But if they
had gone further and thrown their markets open to
England, they know very well that they would have
impoverished and ruined themselves.
Nay, that unregulated exchanges even between
Provinces of the same Empire are good, is itself a rule
not without exceptions. Before the Union between
England and Ireland, there were not only Irish linen
manufacturers, but Irish wool-combers, Irish carpet
manufacturers, Irish blanket manufactures, Irish hosiers,
Irish broad-silk loom weavers, Irish calico printers. For
there existed before the Union, Irish protection against
English manufactures. That protection was by the Act
66 WHICH POLICY
of Union, gradually withdrawn. These last industries
are now all extinct. Ireland has certainly lost by the
change. Has England gained ? No. Ireland is now not
so much a customer, as a pauper dependent on English
To conclude, then, because an extensive area of
mutual exchanges is beneficial, that therefore the larger
it is the better ; and that an unlimited area of unregu-
lated exchanges must necessarily be best of all, is to
conclude without reason and against facts. On the
contrary, to determine the extent, and the component
parts of that area of unregulated exchanges, which
will best nourish production and best distribute its re-
sults, is a most difficult problem. In almost every case
its true solution varies. In every case it is the problem
for the great statesman.
Then it is objected, if each country produce what
it is by nature fitted for — industry will every where
be more productive, and every body will have more.
Alas ! We have seen that many countries would
at once cease to produce at all. In order to gain in
one or two places one or two per cent in price, you
will sacrifice in scores of places 98 or 99 per cent.
The really cheapest manufactures will be often pre-
vented or destroyed, by the mere monopoly of priority.
Instead of multiplying the sum total of the products of
human industry, you will not only greatly diminish
them, but contract the area over which they extend.
DIFFUSES INDUSTRY ? 67
And the most numerous and important class of all, the
labourer, instead of having more, will- - by being every-
where driven to compete with the most wretched com-
petitors — necessarily almost everywhere have a great
Next it is objected that it is manifestly the will of
providence, that there should be universal free and
It is unfortunate for this assertion that for the thou-
sands of years during which man has existed on this
earth, such exchanges should never have existed.
Each nation, by regarding its own interests, has
promoted and will promote them, and so the general
interest of the whole human race will be effectually
furthered and secured.
Let us, as Englishmen, look to the interests of the
United Kingdom. Let us, at any rate, protect and
secure British and Irish industry, leaving other coun-
tries in the same way to protect and secure theirs.
This practical division of solicitude and labor, will con-
duce far more to the general diffusion of industry and
wealth, and the solid advancement of mankind, than a
Quixotic and presum^ptuous assumption of the care of
Providence over the whole human race. We do not,
in ordinary social life, find the morality of professed
cosmopolites either very exemplary or very useful. It
is by the conscientious performance of his own duty
on the part of every individual in his own fan:iily and
68 WHICH POLICY
humble sphere, that the happiness of the whole mass,
is best promoted ; it is by the undivided attention of
every workman to his corner of the building, that the
most magnificent edifice rises. So it is by the protec-
tion of its own industry on the part of every European
country, that population, wealth, industry, commerce,
science, learning and the arts, have been diffused and
will be maintained throughout this glorious Europe.
Lastly, it is said^ the artificial regulation of the
areas within which unregulated exchanges take place
will destroy international trade.
Experience has already demonstrated the contrary.
The places and the subject matters of mutually bene-
ficial exchanges on terms advantageous to both sides
will still remain infinite. We are still to import our
wine, our tea, our dies, our sugar, our spices ; nay even
the corn and provisions, and every thing else that we
really want. But by proper regulation, we are to take
care that these imports, shall come either from our
own colonies, or at least from countries that will deal
with us again. Imports will thus have their corres-
ponding exports. We shall thus double and not
diminish the international trade. And it will be every-
where a commerce, not between wealth at one end, and
indigence at the other ; but between opulent and popu-
lous nations, emulating and rivalling each other.
Perhaps, the candid reader will not now think it
DIFFUSES INDUSTRY ? 69
quite so certain, that if all countries practised free-
trade, all countries would necessarily be gainers. It
is possible he may be disposed to believe that many,
perhaps most countries, and the most important classes
in them would be very great losers.
And certainly the great majority of nations and
governments are, and seem likely still to remain, of
So that if the maxim at the head of this chapter
were as demonstrable as it is disputable, it would
still be but a metaphysical abstraction, and a very
poor foundation for a wise and practical stateman to
" Protected manufactures are sickly."
A METAPHORICAL expressioTi, constantly repeated, little
contradicted^ and therefore by the half-informed be-
lieved. Whatever a men hears or reads constantlj^
without contradiction, he is apt to believe. Sale, the
translator of the Koran, by constantly poring over it, is
said to have become a Mahometan.
But this proposition is so far from being trae, that
a slight review of the history of any manufacture dis-
All great manufactures had their origin in the pro-
tective system. Take our own, the greatest and least
sickly of any. All our own manufactures took their
rise in a system of protective duties, so high as to
amount to prohibitions. In addition to this, owing to
the fearful hostilities that raged in Europe for nearly a
quarter of a century before 1815, we enjoyed a further
accidental monoply of the manufacturing industry of
the world. And this stringent protection has not only
created manufactures, but created them where they
would not naturally have existed, in spite of great
ARE SICKLY. 71
natural disadvantages. Other nations have coal and
iron ore as well as we. The United States are even
richer in this respect. But other nations have also,
what we have not^ they have native raw materials. It
has been justly observed, that Great Britain is singu-
larly poor in the raw materials, which constitute the
basis of the greater portion of her manufacturing in-
dustry. We have no cotton, no silk, no fine wool. Even
our best iron for the manufacture of hard-ware comes
from Sweden ; our oils, gums, colours, woods^ from the
ends of the earth.
Next to us in manufacturing industry, is France.
Her manufacturing industry, though still inferior to
ours, has nevertheless, since the peace, augmented in
an even greater ratio, but under strict and jealous pro-
No political parties can differ more widely than do
the partisans of the exiled Head of the house of Bour-
bon (really including the larger portion of the upper
and educated classes) from the Orleanists and middle
classes ; or than these again from the republicans,
propagandists, socialists and ultra reformers. Yet on
the subject of protection (with the exception of here
and there a speculative enthusiast, and a few wine-
growers in the south) they are all agreed. Protection
to French industry, from the time of Colbert down-
wards, has been, and will be the policy of whatever
party is uppermost in France ; and in this policy^ and
72 PROTECTED MANUFACTURES
this alone, will the dominant party receive the support
of all other parties. The few French partisans of free-
trade being mostly speculative and literary men, we
might have supposed that the French newspaper-press,
rich as it is in literary talent of the first order, or that at
least a considerable portion of it, would be favourable
to their views. But it is not so. Nay, the very news-
paper which has been for many years the advocate of
progress and liberal views, the Gonstitutionnel, is and
always has been, the most determined champion of
protection. In fact, among all classes, and in all parts
of the country, in the metropolis and in the provinces,
the doctrines of protection prevail and flourish. The
stupendous natural boundaries of the country, the very
Alps and Pyrenees themselves, do not repose on their
everlasting foundations more securely than the artifi-
cial barriers that protect and foster the native industry
After France comes Germany. Let any one, before
the late struggles, have visited the countries embraced
by the Zolverein. To say that protection has there
produced manufacturing prosperity, would be to beg
the question. But one thing is certain, that exactly
co-incident in time and place with the most stringent
productive laws, has arisen a manufacturing industry
and production of wealth, without an approach to a
* Look at the overwhelming majority for protection, including all parties,
in the recent debate of the National Assembly.
ARE SICKLY. 73
parallel in all the former history of Germany. On
every side are seen rising mills, factories, workshops,
and warehouses, teeming with an industrious and busy
population; and so far from agriculture being neglected,
it never made more rapid progress, to say nothing of
the mining and metallurgical industry, which has also
received the most astonishing impetus. Yet with us
—the richest country in the world — the Zolverein, in
proportion to her vast extent, multitudinous population
and increasing wealth, has little trade. But as she
has protected herself from the influx of our manufac-
tures, she has undoubtedly been growing richer and
busier. Nay, hardware, the product of protected Ger-
man industry, is actually finding its way into Birming-
ham itself, and articles of German manufacture are
superseding articles of Birmingham make. The more
protected are beginning to beat the less protected
manufactures on their own ground, The Birmingham
people have no power to retaliate. German tariffs take
care of that. German thinkers, deeper and more in-
dependent than the English, have exposed the shallow-
ness of those theories, which have turned the heads of
our rulers. Princes, ministers, philosophers and peo-
ple, are agreed to maintain the protection which has
so abundantly justified their sagacity.
Look next at Eussia. Examine the protective and
jealous tariff of that infant but colossal state : then
contemplate its results. Take the testimony of that
74 PROTECTED MANUFACTURES
most unexceptionable witness^ Mr. Cobden. He has
recently visited the protected textile manufactures of
Russia, which, but for protection, would never have
had existence. And what does he say ? That the
Russians are to be our customers for cotton goods, and
to take them in exchange for the boundless importa-
tions of corn from the Black Sea ? Vain delusion !
According to him these protected manufactures, which
should, in conformity with our received theories, have
been sickly and stunted, are now so advanced and
flourishing as to threaten a rivalry with Great Britain
herself. And every branch of human industry and
art is, by the same means, beginning to flourish and
expand in an empire, which stretching from west to
east, and from east to west again, in almost unbroken
continuity around Europe, Asia, and America, extends
from Archangel nearly to Constantinople, embracing
some of the finest climates and soils in the world, con-
nected and concentrated as they will soon become by
its new iron highways. Within her borders are
cherished and naturalized the productions of all lands.
We have just seen in England specimens of the finest
steel from native Russian iron, fabricated in Russia,
not only into the swords, bayonets, and lances of an
overwhelming military power, but into table cutlery
and tools, that you might suppose to have been turned
out at Birmingham and Sheffield ; while the gold and
silver plate, the diamonds, the jewelry, the exquisite
silks, the gold and silver tissues and brocade, dispute
ARE SICKLY. 75
the prize with Paris and Lyons. Storch, the political
economist, once persuaded the Russian government to
give the free-trade system a trial. It was tried. It
dismally failed^ and was abandoned. All are now^
agreed that protection is the true policy of Kussia ; and
all find, that in Russia, as every where else, it is the
sure road to prosperity and power.*
Take now a small state, Belgium. In proportion to
her area, her manufacturing industry is perhaps greater
than that of any other countr}^, not excepting the
United Kingdom itself. But in Belgium, not only
has the protective system long flourished, but the pro-
tecting duties are now higher than ever, Belgium is
the very paradise of protection. Nay, there is even a
bounty on exportation. Superficial observers call it
an absurd tax on the many for the benefit of a few.
But those who know the facts of the case, and will be
at the pains to trace its effects, and assert the liberty
of independent judgment, find it the cheapest mode in
a season of great danger and difficulty, of supporting
the apparent surplus of an immense population. Many
who superciliously and arrogantly censure the king
and government of Belgium, for this flagrant breach
of their dry and barren rules, would have found greater
* Will it be said that the vast extent, the great population and
varied climate of Russia, form an exception to general rules ? What then
must be said of the almost equal extent, much larger population, more
varied climates, and boundless sea-coasts of the British empire ?
76 PROTECTED MA.NUFACTURES
difficulty in preserving that little and defenceless king-
dom, not only in peace, but prosperity, amidst the
storms of surrounding revolution. Here again, as
elsewhere, protected manufacturing industry has over-
flown on the soil. Land, by nature a mere sand, has
actually become the most fertile in Europe, and sup-
ports a larger population than any other.
Cross the Atlantic, and look at the past and present
policy of the United States. Tor some years after the
last war, low import duties w^re tried. The effects
were ruinous ; they were abandoned for duties avowedly
protective. Our economists prognosticated mischief,
but the result was prosperity, and a vast extension of the
cotton, woollen, and iron manufactures. Branches of
industry, w^hich in the presence of free imports from
England, would never have had even a beginning,
now threaten rivalry.
Protection ! protection ! is now the instinctive cry
of the nation, and the settled policy of the govern-
ment. Enormous duties, though lately somewhat
moderated, are at this hour levied on all our manufac-
tures for the avowed purpose of protection. American
cotton-mills have risen up,* and are beginning to buy
away, on the spot, the cotton from our Manchester
manufacturers. A powerful party are actually calling
for an increase of protection, although American pro-
* And of late in the South as well as in the North.
ARE SICKLY. 11
tected manufactures are beginning to make their
appearance in our market.
Who is the man of all the American citizens, by
age, experience, sound practical wisdom, high charac-
ter, and great natural talent, best qualified to occupy
the presidential chair. Impartial judges will say,
Henry Clay. It is well known that he is a staunch
advocate of protection, and declares free-trade to be a
flattering illusion, destructive, in his judgment, to the
solid interests of America. What says Daniel Web-
ster ? His talent, penetration, experience and judg-
ment, no man doubts. He once was a free-trader, but
he now declares that free-trade is erroneous in theory,
and would in practice inflict mortal injury on his coun-
try. But the actual President, General Taylor, is an
avowed protectionist.* More enlightened society is
not to be found in the world than in the city of Boston,
yet there, as elsewhere, and among the most enlight-
ened and influential classes, the doctrines of protection
What is the consequence of this policy ? Or that
we may not be charged with the old sophism, " Post
hoc ergo 'propter hoc." What is co-incident with this
misdirected industry ? No longer (as during the low
import duties) general distress, but prodigious pros-
perity. Notwithstanding a most expensive war, the
United States never were so prosperous as at this
* His successor, Mr. Filmore, is j-et more decidedly so.
/8 PROTECTED MANUFACTURES
Here are instances of nations adopting the protec-
tive system. In every case manufactures have been
created, not sickly and stunted, but healthy and
flourishing ; in almost every case in the face of natural
disadvantages ; in all cases industry has been forced
into an artificial channel, but the result has been solid
and prodigious prosperity.
Need we wonder, that in every one of these states,
protection continues the universal creed of the people,
and the settled, immoveable policy of the government.
I mistake. One of these states, and the one that
has flourished most under the protective system, has
suddenly altered its opinion, and altered its policy.
So it once changed its mixed and free government for
a republic. And as it then soon reverted to its ancient
constitution, so will it ere long revert to its ancient
commercial policy. That policy will then be trebly
justified, as well by the ruin attending its desertion,
as by the prosperity following its original adoption,
and its final resumption.
But the maxim that protected manufactures are
sickly and stunted, must not escape so easily. There
are other tests of its truth.
Where are the great and flourishing manufactures
that have never enjoyed protection ? — that were not
produced and cradled by it ?
Let the Great Exhibition of 1851 reply to the inter-
ARE SICKLY. 79
Stand in the centre of the magnificent transept, and
look around. Then go and explore the naves, the
sides, the galleries. The marvels of industry created
and nurtured by protection shine everywhere, above,
below, around, and on all sides. But what has unpro-
tected industry to show ? If unregulated exchanges
be (as you say,) not only the most congenial and in-
vigorating, but the natural atmosphere of manufactur
ing industry, surely you can point out some specimens
of its rise and luxuriant growth, under such obvious and
favourable circumstances. We will be content with a
specimen. Ex pede Herculem. You may search and
ransack as long as you please. No trophy of a great
MANUFACTURE, uot indebted to protection for its very
existence, is to be found there. Not (we may be well
assured) because it is excluded, but because it exists
If unprotected manufactures are anywhere to be
found, they are the sickly and stunted ones.
Look at the two nations in Europe that most freely
admit foreign commodities. They are Ireland and
I say Ireland, because she has perfectly free-trade
with the richest manufacturing nation on earth.
With the single exception of the linen trade, has she
any but manufactures of the most sickly complexion ?
Alas ! Ireland is but another name for every thing that
is capable, but withal, wretched and abortive.
80 PROTECTED MANUFACTURES
Look at Turkey. Her customs are low, her com-
mercial system is what is called a liberal one. The
ruins of Asia Minor attest its capability of maintaining
a large population. Now Asia Minor is a desert. No
part of the vast dominions of the Sultan exhibit any
good effect of his liberal tariff.
One reason why Canada has not advanced so rapidly
as the neighbouring districts of the United States is,
that Canada has no manufactures, but the United
States have. Canada has none, because our manufac-
tures smother all infant ones. The United States have
manufactures, because they have protecting duties.
Till recently we gave Canada, as an equivalent, protec-
tion in our markets, as we were protected in hers. We
have taken it away. Already Canada offers us our
choice. A return to protection, or annexation and a
dismemberment of the empire.
The facts are, everywhere, that protected manu-
factures are healthy and robust ; unprotected manufac-
tures sickly, stunted, and precarious.
A nation that manufactures for itself prospers.
Nor are the reasons difficult to discover.
A nation that manufactures for itself, as well as
grows food for itself, produces two values and two
markets instead of one.
Neither manufacturing nor agricultural industry are
any longer limited by the accidental capacity of foreign
markets. Manufactures create a market for food :
ARE STCKLY. 81
food for manufactures. Both may increase at home
by each other's help to an unlimited extent.
One great cause of our alternations of manufacturing
prosperity and distress, and the absence of steady pro-
gresSj is the want of a due balance between the domes-
tic production of food and raw produce, and the pro-
duction of other things. A balance to be restored by
encouraging and stimulating the employment of the
people on the land, in England, Scotland, Ireland, and
the Colonies. What fields we have ! But we are
82 don't over-govern.
'^ Pas trop gouverner — Don't over-govern."
^' It is/^ says ]\Ir. Burke, '^ one of the finest problems
in legislation, what the state ought to take upon itself
to direct by public wisdom, and what it ought to leave
with as little interference as possibile to individual
Such is the modest and diffident tone of wisdom and
experience on this thorny subject. How different from
the positive and disdainful language of many modern
theorists. Instances of injudicious interference on the
part of government were easily pointed out in the
ancient legislation of this and other countries. Im-
diately the vulgar, learned and unlearned, rush as
usual to the opposite extreme, denounce all interference
of government, and paralyse its most beneficial action.
Twenty years ago it was generally considered as
settled, that the business of government was to do as
little as possible. Its duty was summed up in a few
words, " Keep the peace, coin money, and leave all the
rest to the people.^' Pas trop gouverner was to be
the pole-star of statesmen. They were to look down
on sublunary affairs like the gods of Epicurus, and
trust to the natural course of events, as necessarily
beneficial. A policy far from distasteful to rulers,
whom it saves not merely from the labour of thought,
but from the responsibility of action. The fashionable
doctrine was that the interests of individuals, and the
interest of the public (which is but an aggregation of
individuals) necessarily and universally coincide. In-
dividuals know their interests better than the govern-
ment, and may, and should, be left to take care of
themselves. The ignorant and prejudiced vulgar are
to receive no impulse, in the shape of direct legislative
enactment, from their governing and more enlightened
The state of Ireland, and the state of England too,
are however rapidly undeceiving those who held these
extreme notions. Public opinion is undergoing a
change, and it will soon be demonstrated that there
* In France, even before the late revolution, public opinion as to the
true functions of government had undergone a great change. The let- ^
alone system had begun among reflecting men to fall into discredit. Let
us hear what M. Chevalier, himself a professor of political economy, says
on this subject; " J'ai eu a coeur de combattre des prejuges accre'dites en
France, et par la France dans le reste du monde, en vertu desquels le
gouvemement devrait se reduire a des fonctions de surveillance subalterne,
Ini qui, comme son nom indique, est appele a tenir le gouvernail."
" En France, il y a vingt ans encore, les publicistes les plus distingue's,
les economistes dont la reputation e'tait la mieux assise, et la mieux merite'e
e'taient presque tous de cette opinion negative. Les theories d'economie
publique les plus repandues posaient en principe, que le gouvemement ne
doit rien faire par lui-meme, qu'il est essentiellement mal-adroit * * *
En fait une reaction ^opere dans les meillettrs esprits, elle renverse des
reside in every enlightened and wise government,
powers of active interference for good hitherto un-
known and unsuspected.
A patient review of existing facts would indeed have
sufficed to evince the hollowness of the yet fashion-
able theory, and to shew not only that the interference
of government in a hundred ways is indispensable to
the very existence of civilization, but that there is no
general rule or theory to determine when it ought or
ought not to interpose : — That the propriety of inter-
ference in each case must be decided on its own cir-
Not to amuse ourselves with general terms, let us
pass in review some of the cases in which government
has interfered, in most cases indispensably, and in all,
as is generally thought, beneficially.
It provides defences against external aggression.
It conducts treaties with foreign nations.
It preserves internal peace and order.
It is the corner-stone of family ties, family duties,
family affection, family education, by regulating and
enforcing the marriage contract.
It institutes and protects property.
It regulates the transmission of property.
It enforces the repair of high-ways, by the several
districts through which they pass, or by those who use
It obliges each county to make and repair its
It maintains ports and harbours.
It surveys and lights the coast.
It coins money, and prohibits interference with this
It regulates the issue of promissory notes.
It provides an uniform system of weights and
measures, and proscribes the use of any other.
It assumes the distribution of intelligence by the
By the patent and copy-right laws it gives bounties
on the exertion of the inventive faculties, in the shape
of a monopoly for a limited period.
By requiring a public specification, explanatory of
every patented discovery or invention, it takes care
that the secret shall not die with the inventor.
It imposes a bridle on the acquisition of property
by corporate bodies.
It protects the public health, by the prohibition of
nuisances of a thousand kinds, and by making provi-
sion for their removal.
By the quarantine laws, it prevents the importation
of contagious diseases.*
It provides for the cleanliness of towns.
It regulates the fares of hackney carriages, and con-
trols the drivers.
It forbids inoculation for the small-pox, and artifi-
cially promotes vaccination.
* Not to be ligTitly discarded on the theories of medical optimists and
It assumes the distribution of insolvent estates.
It provides for the maintenance of the poor.
It forbids perpetuities, by avoiding all attempts to
tie up property beyond a life or lives in being, and
twenty-one years after.
It restrains trusts for accumulation of property.
Though it tolerates all religions, it does not leave
the virtue and happiness of the multitude without the
support and direction of an established faith and
The government does some little (alas ! how little)
for the secular education of the people.
In the above cases 'government interferes on behalf
of the public.
But there are many other cases where it interferes to
protect the helplessness or inexperience of individuals.
It shields infants by avoiding their contracts, and
protecting their persons and property :
And married women :
And persons of unsound mind :
And, in many ways, the helpless labouring poor.
It forbids the truck system.
* The Churcti of England is at this moment more powerful and popular
than ever. Of all modern measures, none have been framed so wisely, or
succeeded so well, as the Acts for the commutation of tithes. Herj^ounger
sister, the Church of Scotland, has, ever since her final predominance at
the revolution, done more for the virtue, happiness, and general improve-
ment of the community, than any other Church since the first establish-
ment of Christianity.
DON T OVER-GOVERN. O/
It regulates the employment of women and children
in mines and factories.
It controls pawnbrokers : Grinding the tooth of
usury, and securing facilities for redemption.
It prohibits and punishes the use of unjust weights
and measures :
And the sale of unwholesome provisions.
And the adulteration of coffee, tobacco, snuff, beer,
tea, cocoa, chocolate and pepper.
Nor is it the labouring classes only that the law pro-
tects when individuals are liable to be oppressed and
Suppose a man gives a money-bond with a penalty
if the money is not repaid at a day prefixed. The law
will not allow the penalty to be enforced.
The barbarous old common law exacted the full and
literal penalty. Experience shewed that the law ought
to step in, and shield a man even from the consequences
of his own imprudence ; otherwise the administration
of justice itself would be converted into an engine of
oppression, and be regarded with horror and disgust.
In the reign of Henry the Vlllth, Sir Thomas ?Jore
unsuccessfully attempted to persuade the judges to
grant relief at law against the penalty of a bond, on
payment of principal, interest, and costs. And when
they said, they could not relieve against a penalty, he
swore, "By the Body of God he would grant an in-
junction ? '' Equity was compelled to relieve, and at
length the common-law judges were by statute enabled
to relieve also.
88 don't over-govern.
A man shall bind himself in a large sum, say, £1,000,
to observe the rules of a society. One of the rules
perhaps is, that he shall contribute a shilling a month
for a particular purpose, another, that he shall hang his
hat on a particular peg. He has inadvertently over-
looked or forgotten one of the rules. Is he not to be re-
lieved from the penalty, if he pay his shilling a day too
late, or if he hang his hat on the wrong peg ?
A man in his necessities mortgages his property,
and stipulates that if he do not redeem by a certain
day, he shall not be at liberty to redeem at all. The
law enforces his right to redeem after the stipulated
time, in spite of his contract. It disregards an engage-
ment, which may have been wrung from the necessities,
or filched from the inexperience of the mortgagor.
In some cases the law points out to a man the form
of his contracts, and the evidence which shall prove
them, by insisting that they shall contain certain par-
ticulars, and shall be in writing. A provision, the
wisdom of which a single day's experience in a court
of justice will abundantly evince.
To guard against fraud, the law directs the form
and manner in which wills shall be executed.
These are rules not laid down before-hand by theory,
but pointed out by experience ; and not only justified
by the practice of ages, but found to be absolutely in-
A man grants an annuity for his life. The law
DON T OVER-GOVERN.
supervises and registers the transaction. Many whole-
sale schemes of plunder are thus nipped in the bud.
The most stringent securities known to the law are
warrants of attorney and cognovits. Under them
body, land, and goods may be seized. An unlearned
person requires these instruments, and the contingen-
cies in which they may be used against him, to be
explained to him, otherwise they might as well be
written in Arabic. Accordingly, the law smites with
sentence of nullity all such instruments, unless the
unfortunate person executing them has at his elbow at
the time of signature, an attorney of his own choosing,
to explain their meaning fully.
A purchaser of gold and silver articles cannot tell,
whether they are real solid gold and silver or not, or
how much of the weight is precious metal, and how
much alloy. He is constantly liable to be imposed on.
The law steps it to his assistance, and provides the
assay-mark of a public officer.
A man buys a pocket of hops. It cannot at particular
seasons be opened to see if it is of uniform quality ;
a sample can only be taken from the outside. The
purchaser is at the mercy of the grower. Again the
law steps in, and makes it penal to pack falsely.
An attorney sends in his bill to a client. How can
the unfortunate client tell whether the charges are
usual and fair ? The law having found competition a
very inadequate security, provides a public officer,
before whom the debtor is entitled to lay the bill for
supervision, or taxation as it is called. This officer
is endued with a power not only to correct, but to
A passenger, or emigrant, going on board ship for e
long voyage, is ignorant how much room, how mucl
food, how much water, ought to be provided, that the
healths and lives of the passengers may not be jeopard-
ized. Experience has long decided, that the law must
come to his assistance.
The law compels the professional education of medi-
cal men and attornies. Their competition for practice
on the one hand, and the ordinary prudence of man-
kind on the other, are found by experience very inef-
fectual safe guards against empiricism and dishonesty.
The law superadds artificial protection, which, though
still inadequate to attain the end proposed, is of great
use so far as it goes.
The law discourages gaming contracts, and avoids
gaming policies of insurance on ships and lives. With-
out such provisions, the perverseuess of mankind
would turn, and has turned, insurance-offices into
All the above are instances of the mode in which
nearly all governments have found it for the advantage
of the community to interpose. An abolition of almost
any one of these functions of government would be a
step backwards, from civilization towards barbarism.
What is the interposition of government ?
DON T OVER-GOVERN. 91
Simply the concentrated action of the wisdom and
power of the whole society on a given point. A mutual
agreement by all, that certain things shall be done or
not done for the general benefit, and an enforcement
of that agreement. Why should it ever have been
assumed that this latent, but most energetic power,
will be inefiicient or necessarily injurious ? Because
it may sometimes have been mis-directed or abused ?
But to argue from the abuse against the use is an
ancient and transparent sophism. We have already
seen that nothing but the force of government holds
society together, and prevents the most flagrant and
disorgauizing mischief, springing from a natural state
of things. And great as are the benefits we derive
from government, — from the concentrated action of
the whole community, still greater are yet in reserve.
What the steam-engine is in practical mechanics, the
artificial and concentrated action of the whole commu-
nity will hereafter be in national economy. Here, and
not in the let-alone system, lies the real hope of the
ancient societies, the decrepit monarchies of Europe.
As in individuals, so in communities, we have seen
vices and evil tendencies continually springing up,
which a wise and vigilant legislation nips as they bud.
Are there no rank and monstrous growths of evil that
have never even yet been pruned, — no w4iolesome
plants that have never yet been set ?
The natural, healthy, virtuous occupation of man is
the cultivation of the soil. In every healthy and per-
manent community it bears its due proportion to other
industries. Otherwise you have overgrown towns,
now in comparative prosperity, now in unspeakable
distress. The moral depravation and physical deterio-
ration of the race soon follow. A good and stable
government of a depraved people is impossible ; — the
more popular the government, the worse it is.
Can any reflecting person view without alarm and
wonder on the one hand, the congested and deterio-
rating population of the cities and towns of the United
Kingdom, and on the other, the imperfect cultivation
even of England and Scotland, to say nothing of the
millions of acres of waste, but cultivable lands in Ire-
land, or of the boundless agricultural resources of the
Ought not the concentrated action of the whole com-
munity to be directed to the fuller employment of the
people on the land; by indirect means and induce-
ments first, and if these fail, by direct legislation ?
The task is not impossible. It may be done, and done
quietly and efi"ectually, without loss to a single indi-
vidual, but with prodigious and permanent gain and
security to all. Are we to wait till a revolution does
it, or attempts it by subversion of property ?
The purification of great cities and the proper use of
their refuse, may be made to increase our agricultural
resources as much as if it enlarged our territory.
Small holdings, with stall-feeding and spade labour,
even on lands so barren as to be unprofitable or inac-
cessible to the plough, present resources more than
sufficient to absorb all the real surplus of our popula-
tion. And with equal benefit to landlord and tenant.
Unhappily our recent policy has been in a direction
at variance with the employment of the people on the
What stands in the way ? Some fancied theories of
the political economists about rent,* and the mischief of
bringing inferior lands into cultivation. Theories every
day practically contradicted by the unexpected fecun-
dity t of untried lands, and fertilization by new pro-
cesses. Theories which railways, new roads, new
manures, the resources of agricultural chemistry, an
improved tenure of large farms, and the introduction
of small ones, will laugh to scorn as practical guides.
Again, — we have seen some of the numberless in-
stances in which when, of two parties, one is weaker
or more incompetent than the other, the law steps in
to the aid of the weaker party, and places both on level
ground. Especially ought this to be done, when the
public have a vital interest in the contract, which that
weaker party makes.
* See the observations on the modern theory of rent, — infra.
t Witness the experiments which have lately been made on Chat-Moss.
A few years ago it was deemed an irreclaimable bog. It is now demon-
strated, that at small expense it is capable of becoming some of the most
valuable land in England. And what is true of Chat-Moss is true of the
Irish bogs. See the observations on the theory of Rent — infra.
94 don't over-govern.
A tenant in England or Ireland takes a farm. He
can do nothing but cultivate land. He must take it
or starve. Even if he cultivate at an eventual loss, his
little property could not be better employed. He is
at the mercy of his landlord. He will bid for a farm
at a losing rent. And what is much worse, he has
neither the knowledge, nor the poiuer, to engraft on
the contract, stipulations securing to him the benefit
of improvements. If he make improvements, he knows
they will belong to his landlord ; and so they do. But,
in general, he ivill not make them. Two hundred
years ago, a large proportion of land in England and
Scotland and Ireland was occupied by the owners.
But now, nearly the whole of the United Kingdom is
occupied by tenants. Throughout the United King-
dom, unless the law interpose, there exists therefore
an eifectual practical bar to improvement, and to the
full cultivation of the land. Here the law ought to
interfere. It might easily, in all cases, secure to tenants
the full benefit of improvements. It might enable
them to raise money upon improvements, so that they
are not even temporarily out of pocket, and might thus
at once secure the landlord from any danger of being
obliged to repay them, and yet improve his estate. It
is mere trifling to say the landlord and tenant can do
this now. The fact is, they do not, and the tenant
cannot ; both are sufferers, but the greatest sufferer is
DON^T OVER-GOVERN. 95
A vast uDperceived change has come over the coun-
try within the last two hundred years. The masses,
the bulk of the people, now live entirely on wages. On
the rate of wages hangs the weal or woe of the United
Kingdom, A shilling a day difference in the rate of
wages, may make forty or fifty millions sterling differ-
ence in the aggregate annual income of the labouring
classes ; and of course in their expenditure aud con-
sumption — in the market they create. The labouring
poor are the great customers. One great measure in
a right direction has lately passed — the Factory Act,
It has been a successful measure. So has every mea-
sure in the same sense ; witness the laws against the
Truck system. Humanity is the profoundest policy.
These measures, it must be admitted logically lead to
others. Modern political economy condemns them all.
But experience will be found to justify much further
progress in the same direction. It is interference for
the bulk of the people. Such interference is however
indissolubly united with a protective system. Those
who by law are bound to treat men as men, must not
be exposed to unfair competition with those who are at
liberty to treat them as slaves and machines. It would
be easy to shew that the apprehensions of the political
economist, that legislation of such a tendency would
diminish the fund out of which labour* is paid, and
unduly stimulate population, are utterly groundless :
nay, that the effect would be the very contrary, — to
* See the observations on Wages,— infra.
96 don't oyer-govern.
increase markets, increase industry, augment the fund
out of which wages are paid, and introduce habits of
forethought and caution among the labouring poor.
Minor cases in which the still further interposition of
government is imperatively required, crowd upon us.
Can the people be safely left even to bury their dead
as they like ?
Can they be trusted to remove the refuse of large
towns, and employ it on the fertilization of their lands?
Do they not convert into poison and death, the provision
which Providence has made for indefinite reproduction ?
Do not frightful and frequent accidents call for an
inspection of coal-mines ?
Do not shareholders in railways require the protec-
tion of public auditors ?
Ought there not to be cheap,* certain, public, com-
munications by steam with the Colonies ? Steam-
vessels, that shall be bridges in peace, and floating
castles in war.
The policy of the Romans was as much wiser and
grander than ours, as their means of locomotion were
inferior. Contemplate the ruins of the Appian, Aure-
* Experience both in Europe and America has demonstrated that such
communications cannot be achieved by private enterprize alone. Hence
government aid has been wisely granted to lines of Steamers connecting
Great Britain with British India, with the Cape of Good Hope, with the
British West Indies, and with British North America. But they are not
yet the bridges which entice the footsteps of the emigrating multitude to
our own colonies.
DON^T OVER-GOYERN. 97
lian, Emilian, and Flaminian ways. On four feet of
masonry repose huge blocks of basalt, surmounted by
slabs of marble a foot thick, and ten feet square, jagged
with a chisel to prevent the slipping of the horses.
Some of the Roman roads have borne the traffic of two
thousand years. Eadiating from the Imperial City in
right lines, here ascending, there piercing mountains,
or spanning morasses, and recommencing beyond the
sea, they penetrated and bound together, Italy, Gaul,
Spain, Britain, Germany, Greece, Asia Minor, Syria,
and Northern Africa. These vast constructions were
achieved at the public expense, by a people wise enough
to appreciate their utility and magnificence.
Ought there not to be Government supervision and
Government guarantee of Savings Banks ?
Many such questions may be put.
The true admonition at this day is not, " Do not
over-govern.'^ It is, " Do not under-govern." Govern-
ment has practically abjured half the functions, of which
the people have a right to expect its discharge. The
vessel of the state now never so much as attempts to
stem an adverse current, but on principle resigns itself
to the stream.
Let any individual abandon himself to the natural
course of events, and we know what will soon become
of him. Let a number of individuals, a community,
do the same ; and their fate will be the same.
98 WHAT IS THE GOOD OF COLONIES ?
" What is the good of Colonies ? "
So say the ultra-free-traders.
"Give me ships, colonies, and commerce," said the
greatest administrative genius of modern times.
Well does it behove the rulers of the British Empire
to see to itj that they commit no mistake in this mat-
ter. A mistake here is irreparable. The world is now
occupied. No more colonies are to be had. Repen-
tance and a change of public opinion, however soon it
may arrive, may yet come too late.
Steam, as an effectual means of communication by
land and ocean, has not existed twenty years. The
wonders of the Electric Telegraph have but just burst
on our astonished sight. Our fashionable but ephe-
meral anti-colonial theories, modern as they are, are
nevertheless older than Iron Highways, Atlantic
Steamers, and the Electric Telegraph. They therefore
leave entirely out of their calculations, the connecting
and concentrating efficacy of these momentous modern
Steam has transformed the little peddling manufac-
turing villages of the last century into Manchesters
WHAT IS THE GOOD OF COLONIES ? 99
and Birminghams. On Towns, and on a small scale,
such are its ejffects j on Empires, and on a large scale,
its effects will be proportionate. Uniformity in lan-
guage, manners, opinion, law, government, — simulta-
neous and concerted action over enormous portions of
the earth's surface, hitherto impossible, are now sud-
denly rendered not only possible, but perfectly easy.
Time and distance are annihilated. The aggregation
of vast masses of mankind under one governing power,
will minimize the expenses of government, consolidate
its strength, augment its efficacy, and ensure its dura-
tion. We already see the approaching shadows of
those gigantic confederations which a coming age will
witness. The two colossal empires that even now loom
in the distance, are the United States, and Russia.
Possibly a third may be discried, and a greater than
either of the other two, unless it pleases Providence
only to show us the mighty possible future of Great
Britain, and then to dash our incipient greatness, by
allowing us to persevere in a disintegrating policy, in
spite of the plainest warnings.
Let us consider for a moment what our Colonial
empire consists of, and what it can do for us.
Our noblest dependency is the Indian empire. It
has been lately increased, and to an enlightened policy
rendered more valuable than ever, by the acquisition
of the Punjaub. Tw^o of the greatest rivers in Asia
are now ours, and may easily be made available, not
100 WHAT IS THE GOOD OF COLONIES ?
only for internal communication, but for the fertiliza-
tion of vast districts. A new field for British skill and
science, and in a healthy and temperate climate, has
just been opened up. The revenues of the new pro-
vince are already so large that it need be no expense.
Within our own borders, India, now presents us with
the productions of all lands and all climates, — cotton,
silk, fine wool, sugar, spices, rice, and every other
natural production that can be desired, in inexhaustible
profusion. And these immense natural riches are
India's means for the unlimited purchase of Manches-
ter, Birmingham, and Sheffield goods. Her custom-
houses are ours. Trade with India alone, under proper
regulations, is capable of soon becoming far greater
than the whole present foreign trade of Great Britain.
Turn to the West. We have Upper and Lower
Canada, with the magnificent St. Lawrence. Inex-
haustible forests, and supplies of wood, on our own
soil. Every Canadian already dines off an English
table-cloth, with English knives and forks, clears and
cultivates with English tools, sets his foot on an Eng-
lish carpet, sleeps on an English bed, is clothed from
head to foot in English manufactures. And till
lately, he was satisfied and proud to be a British
We have New Brunswick, with its timber and ship-
building capabilities. Nova Scotia, with the most
magnificent and commodious harbours in the world.
In the harbour of Halifax alone 1000 ships can ride
WHAT IS THE GOOD OF COLONIES ? 101
safely, to say nothing of the harbours of Margaret's
Bay, St. Mary^s Bay, the basin of Mines, the Anna-
polis Basin, Pictou Harbour and Cumberland Basin.
There is a neighbouring power that forms a juster
estimate, than we do of these means of maritime
greatness and imperial wealth.
We have, in the same part of the world, Cape
Breton, Prince Edward^s Island, and the Hudson^s Bay
The West India Islands, so cruelly treated,* might,
since the introduction of steam, be just as valuable to
■* Slave labor is abolished and prohibited throughout the West Indies.
But the colonies are, nevertheless, unjustly and cruelly matched against
slave labor elsewhere. The same blow has smitten and destroyed at once
and everywhere the whole British West India interest. Plantations are
abandoned to the Jaguars and other wild beasts ; mills and machinery
silent and decaying, roads obliterated by the rank growth of the jungle ;
dykes, that fenced large and fertile districts against the sea, left to ruin.
The white population are everywhere ruined, and it is to be feared dis-
affected. The blacks forsaking the chapels and schools, shunning the face
of the white man, neglecting marriage, and casting off not only Christi-
anity, but the decencies and restraints of civilized life, are fast relapsing
into their original barbarism. A tropical climate and teeming soil nourish
their indolence, inflame their sensuality, diminish their wants and easily
supply them. High wages cease to be, as in England, a temptation to
labor. Upon a strict calculation, even on mere sordid pecuniary and
mercantile principles, the gain to the British Empire by a little lower
price of sugar is a miserable percentage upon the loss of income to British
subjects, to say nothing of capital annihilated. Those who may be in-
clined to think this description of the present wretched state of the AVest
Indies over-charged, are implored to peruse " Lord Stanley's further
FACTS CONNECTED WITH THE West Indies." A more demonstrative
and melancholy exposure of the folly of that system which would always
leave capital and labor to themselves, without regard to domestic interests,
never was written.
102 WHAT IS THE GOOD OF COLONIES ?
US as new counties, with a tropical climate, in the
English channel, or as sugar plantations, with a con-
genial climate, in Suffolk or Yorkshire, were such
changes as possible as they are imaginable.
We actually have, within a run of a few days, almost
of a few hours, several provinces adapted by nature to
supply us with tropical productions.
First, there is the noble Island of Jamacia ; the
aggregate imports and exports of which island alone
used to be about five millions sterling a year ; and
which, if it were treated, as it ought to be, like an
English county, might be, and would soon be, much
more. Vv^e have then the long list of Antigua, Bar-
badoes, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Nevis, St.
Christopher, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Tobago, Tortola,
Trinidad, the Bahamas and the settlements of Dema-
rara and Berbice ; all once most flourishing and loyal
dependencies, now fast sinking to decay, illienated
by a policy unexpected, because incredible, but in the
near neighbourhood of a great and rising state, whose
policy is altogether different.
Our European dependencies are chiefly valuable as
naval and military stations, the outposts and sentinels
of what yet is, but possibly for no long time, the greatest
naval power that ever existed.
Gibraltar, the key of the Mediterranean, has been
ours for nearly 150 years.
The strong fortress of Malta, taken from the French
in 1803, was ceded to us at the peace of 1815.
WHAT IS THE GOOD OF COLONIES ? 103
The Ionian Isles, viz., Corfu, Cephalonia, Zante,
Santa Maura, Ithaca, Cerigo, Paxo, passed under the
British protection, or more properly speaking, the
British sovereignty, in 1815. These islands supply us
with large quantities of currants and olive oil, and take
in return cotton and other manufactures, and colonial
produce. The revenue of these dependencies about
pays the expences of government, leaving us the trade
as a pure gain.
The small island of Heligoland, in the North sea, is
useful, especially in the time of war, as a depot, and
as a pilot and packet station.
Besides the colonies and dependencies above enumer-
ated, we have also in the Northern hemisphere, on the
Western coast of Africa, the settlement of Sierra Leone,
the settlement on the Gambia, and the settlements of
Cape Coast Castle, Accra, Dix Cove, Annamboe and
In the North Atlantic we have the Bermuda islands.
Such is a mere outline of this colossal empire in the
But we have yet to enumerate our vast possessions
under the Southern Cross.
In the South Atlantic ocean we possess St. Helena
and the Ascension Island.
We then come to the Cape of Good Hope* and South
* A niggardly policy has endangered this noble and indispensable de-
pendency. Unwise economy has, as usual, necessitated extraordinary
104 WHAT IS THE GOOD OF COLONIES ?
Africa ; the half-way house, as it were, on the road to
our possessions in the East and in Australia.
Then we have the Mauritius.
Next comes the great and beautiful" island of Ceylon,
well fitted for every tropical production, especially for
Coffee, Cinnamon, and the Cocoa-nut tree.
The island, or rather the continent of New Holland,
(the whole of which is a British possession,) is twenty-
eight times as large as Great Britain and Ireland put
together. Although this immense territory has not
been ours sixty years, already, on the coast and its
expenditure. The English people now grudge the expense of upholding,
or rather recovering our dominion. Suppose then, frankly confessing our
poverty, and the decline of our power, we surrender the colony of the
Cape of Good Hope to its ancient mistress— Holland. Its value in the
eyes of the Dutch would at once be apparent. Dutch ships of the line,
with ten thousand troops on board, would soon be descried from Table
Bay. The Dutch with their colonial system would be but too welcome.
No more disturbances in the interior, or any where else. The Dutch and
not the British flag would thenceforth wave, not only over the Caffres,
but over the Southern Ocean.
No doubt to hold and rule the British Empire, there must be great
naval and military strength. But the larger the Empire is, the ampler
the imperial means and resources. A narrow shop-keeping policy did not
acquire our dominions and cannot keep them. And such a policy is no
more the road to imperial wealth, than to imperial power. It is true that
our recent anti-colonial system has not only severed the strongest ties
that bound the colonies to the mother countr}', but weakened the argu-
ments for the integrity of the Empire. Why should we be at the exclusive
cost of defending colonies, which for all commercial purposes now belong
to others as much as to ourselves ? Why should the colonists desire
the connection ? Why not prefer America, Holland, or France ? Why
not prefer independence.!* which last would really be to prefer the
strongest or nearest naval power in the next war.
WHAT IS THE GOOD OF COLONIES ? 105
neighbourhood, are extensive and flourishing settle-
ments. Indeed, all but the first, are of only a few
On the East is Sidney, with an extensive territory.
On the South-east, Port Philip.
On the Southern coast, the settlement of South
On the West, Swan River.
These settlements enjoy a dry, temperate, and pecu-
liarly salubrious climate. All the vegetable produc
tions of the South of France and the South of Europe
flourish here. So well adapted are they to sheep-
pasturage, that the fine Australian wool is rapidly
superseding foreign wool in the British market. The
soil and climate are well fitted for the growth of the vine.
Although the manufacture of wine is but in its infancy,
yet wine, both red and white, of excellent quality, has
already been produced in considerable quantities. There
is reason to expect that before long, the export of wine
will be a flourishing branch of commerce. Although
the mineralogical wealth of these vast territories is still
unexplored, yet copper is known to exist in abundance,
and even gold has been found.
The same general remarks apply to the island of
Van Dieman^s Land.
Norfolk Island has hitherto only been used as a penal
The temperate and healthy climate of the three islands
of New Zealand renders them peculiarly eligible for
106 WHAT IS THE GOOD OF COLONIES ?
emigrants ; and though the settlements are in their in-
fancy, they promise ere long, great prosperity.
Such is an imperfect and bird's-eye view of the vast
dominions of the British Crown in both hemispheres.
If they do not compose a state without a parallel for
greatness and universal prosperity, the fault must be
in the policy of the Imperial government.
It is true, the ocean flows between, or rather amongst,
the members of this vast confederation. But that very
ocean is at once the cheapest high-way, and would be,
with a wise policy, the source of maritime strength and
greatness equally overwhelming and durable. With
such an empire, Great Britain is, more than ever. Queen
of the seas.
Go to the hall of Greenwich hospital, and see in the
pictures that line the walls, the more than Roman
valour and contempt of life, to which Great Britain
owes this Imperial greatness. But the names of Blake
and Shovel, of Eliott, Duncan, Howe, CoUingwood,
Jervis and Nelson fall coldly on the ears of an uncon-
scious and ungrateful public*
* But the public should not be unjustly censured. Anti-colonial and
other cosmopolitan theories were not first introduced bj' them, but by
theorists in high places. The difficulty and anxiety, which all the indus-
trious classes in this kingdom now experience in getting a living, and dis-
posing of their children, has depressed their spirits, and nearly extinguished
the great sentiment of national pride. Their great object necessarily is,
to make their limited and precarious income go as far as it can, no matter
what the ultimate danger to the countrj^ or to the permanence of that in-
WHAT IS THE GOOD OF COLONIES ? 107
Their heroism has won for us means of unlimited
production, purchase and trade ; with harbours, rivers,
ports, and custom-houses under our own controul ;
advantages of which we seem equally insensible and
unworthy. We have incurred the cost of acquisition,
but refuse to reap the benefit. We prefer to find,
among foreign nations, hostile tariffs and jealous
Is not the closer and closer union of the members
of this great family the secret of their true policy ?
" Union is strength," should be the guiding star of
The ancient colonial system, though not so dangerous
as the modern anti-colonial one, is nevertheless not the
true and durable one.
The great Lord Chatham was not only a protection-
ist, but an ultra-protectionist ; jealous even of the
colonies. " They shall not,'^ said he, '^ make so much
as a nail." The ultra-free-traders on the other hand,
wantonly expose the Colonists to every disadvantage,
and allow them no protection against those foreigners,
who enjoy overwhelming advantages. The Colonists
are over-weighted, and required to run against those
who carry no weight. The true policy would differ
from Lord Chatham's ; for it would treat the Colonists
as if they inhabited an English county, giving them
full liberty to grow and manufacture what they pleased.
It would differ from the system of the free-traders, for
108 WHAT IS THE GOOD OF COLONIES ?
in place of disadvantages, it would give them, in com-
mon with all their fellow-subjects, an advantage in the
Imperial markets, and take in return a reciprocal ad-
vantage in the Colonial markets. The first markets in
the world, instead of being opened as now to all with-
out distinction, would give a preference to British
subjects. It requires little foresight to perceive how
powerfully self-interest would immediately bind the
Colonies to the mother country and the mother country
to the Colonies. National pride would join with national
interest to cement the union. England would not be
prouder of her vast dominions, than these dominions
of the confederation to which they belong, and of the
royal and imperial head of which they are the members.
Full scope in every quarter of the globe would be
given to Anglo-Saxon energy and enterprize. In no
long time not only would the Colonial trade of the
British Empire be ten times what the Foreign trade
is now : but our external trade, instead of leaning on a
sandy and precarious foundation, would repose on a
solid and enduring one.
But it is said, nature never intended such vast ter-
ritories as India, at the other end of the globe, to
remain subject to this little Island. We must lose our
Colonies some day or other.
In the first place, it is forgotten what natural phy-
sical advantages the inhabitants of a northern and
temperate region have over the listless and indolent
WHAT IS THE GOOD OF COLONIES ? 109
natives of a tropical climate. The supremacy of the
one and the subjection of the other, is not only in the
order of nature, — it is for the advantage of both.
British India never knew the blessings of peace and
regular government, till it passed under British sway.
As to all your Colonies in temperate regions, you
have it in your power, — at least you had it in your
power, — to make a continued connexion with the mother
country their interest and their pride.
But assume, that at some future time you are to
lose a portion of your dominions. What is this but
saying that the British Empire is like all other human
things, mortal. Is that any reason for prematurely
breaking it up ? for sacrificing the ultimate advantages
which survive even the severance of a long connexion ?
Is the present and the next and the following genera-
tion to count for nothing ?
But colonies are expensive.
Whoever will sit down and count the real pecuniary
loss to the mother country, and compare it with the
real pecuniary gain, will soon discover, that even now
the colonies are a prodigious gain to the mother country.
He will find it, even if he address himself to the
calculation under the influence of two palpable, but
almost universal errors; first, that national expendi-
ture is a pure loss,^ and secondly, that all the good
derived from trade is the profit, in the narrowest sense
of the word.
* This question will be examined hereafter.
110 WHAT IS THE GOOD OF COLONIES ?
Much more clearly will he see it, if rising above
these popular delusions, he remembers that national
expenditure is, to a very great extent, but a transfer of
value ; and that every thing produced within the limits
of the British Empire, is an addition to its wealth.
But if the colonies are a gain even now, persecuted
and distressed as they are, what will they be under a
wise and truly British policy ? If they would be of value
to almost any state, how much more to a state overflow-
ing with population, and staggering under a load of
debt ? But what you do, you must do quickly. It is
very doubtful whether you have not already, by a few
months of mis-government, really lost some of your
greatest colonies, and some of your best customers.
When interest and affection have both been loosened,
and cease to cement the union, a nominal allegiance
only watches the favourable opportunity.
Indeed the pecuniary burthens of Great Britain are
among the strongest reasons for drawing closer the
bands of connexion with the colonies. Without them
she will soon sink to the rank of a fourth-rate power.
Her obligations, public and private, will then grind
her to powder. With her colonies, and the sure, open,
boundless field which they present, her debts and
liabilities are dust in the balance.
Men of fortune ! if you live to witness the severance
of Great Britain from her colonies, you will find your
wealth of every kind, vanish like Aladdin's palace.
Your land may remain, but its value will be gone.
Once more. As the Colonies grow, the more they
WHAT IS THE GOOD OF COLONIES? Ill
enrich both the mother country and themselves.
Both she and. they can more and more easily sustain
the expense of their government and defence. The
greater they become, the less they cost.
Lastly. Pursue the disintegrating theory to its
logical consequences. Canada is expensive, give it to
the United States. The West Indies and the Cape of
Good Hope are expensive and discontented : throw
them into the lump. The East Indies are expensive,
abandon them to the Native Princes or to Russia. Gib-
raltar and Malta are expensive ; the French or Russians
will gladly take them off your hands. Australia is
expensive ; let them set up for themselves, and shut
out your products ; as all emancipated colonies ever
have done and ever will do. Ireland is very expensive 3
leave her to the Irish. The Islands, and some of the
Highlands of Scotland are but little better. Some
counties of England are threatening to fall into the
same condition. What will be left ? A fraction of a
bankrupt island in the Northern Sea. Do you get
rid of your debt with your dominions ?
But if you are to retain your relative rank with
Russia and the United States, you must not go back-
ward but forward. If you even stand still, you are
over-shadowed. You have only to retain your colonies,
make them an integral part of the mother-country, and
you will be greater than either or both.
Bind them up in one Great British Zolverein.
112 WHAT IS THE GOOD OF COLONIES ?
No doubt there are political measures that deserve
the attention of our rulers.
Before the Reform Act, some at least of the Colonies
had a voice in the legislature, and were, though not
nominally, yet really, and very effectually represented.
Now no colony is represented there, directly or indi-
rectly. Laws are made, deeply affecting the Colonies,
by utter strangers, very imperfectly acquainted with
their real interests.
If each Colony were directly represented, though
only by one or two members, their voices could not
indeed influence a division, but they would be living
sources of accurate information, accessible to every
member of the House. The leaven would diffuse itself
throughout the mass, and the temper of the House on
Colonial affairs would be changed. Is Thetford to send
two members, and are neither Jamaica nor Canada to
be even heard by one ? And can the prerogative select
no Colonial subject whose wealthy influence, or infor-
mation, would be an accession even to the Upper
Have not recent incidents demonstrated the necessity
of a direct channel of communication between the
Colonies and the Legislature ?
But what is to be said of the Colonial- Office — of
the machinery which directs the Imperial executive
government of the Colonies. Can anything be more
miserably inadequate ?
PROTECTION WOULD DESTROY EXTERNAL TRADE. 113
"Protection would destroy eocternal traded
One answer to this assertion, is an appeal to facts.
No nation has adopted the theory and practice of pro-
tection to the same extent as England : no nation has
at the same time enjoyed so extensive and lucrative a
foreign trade. For centuries the protective policy has
been unquestioned and triumphant ; for centuries our
foreign trade has been steadily augmenting. The
strictest protection in the world has coincided with the
greatest foreign trade in the world.
In truth, the domestic activity, industry, and prospe-
rity, fostered by the protective system, is the surest basis
of a permanent and extensive and mutual foreign trade.
In the first place, with protection and a certain
home-market, have arisen the means of purchase.
Under a strict and jealous system of protection we
have seen the rise of Manchester, Birmingham, Shef-
field, Merthyr, Leeds, Glasgow, Huddersfield, Bradford,
Nottingham, Coventry, Leicester. We have seen skill
and machinery brought to perfection. Protection has
not blunted the invention or superseded the ingenuity
of our countrymen. On the contrary, our cottons and
114 PROTECTION WOULD DESTROY
woollens and hardware are the best in the world.
What England would have been without protection
from foreign manufactures, we know not. She might
have been what Ireland now is without protection from
British manufactures. But it is certain that tvith pro-
tection the means of purchase have been created and
multiplied in a degree marvellous, and transcending
all anticipation. Had the manufacturing prosperity
of England been matter of history, it would have
been deemed incredible and fabulous. Our means
of purchase are immense and inexhaustible. All we
now want is markets : — but markets for the support
and existence of these means of purchase, as well as
for their increase. A sure market created them ; in-
secure and precarious markets will destroy them, and
leave in their place a wretched and discontented popu-
lation. Thus with protection has arisen the first
indispensable pre-requisite for foreign trade, — things
to give in exchange for foreign commodities, — in other
words, the means of purchase — exports.
Next, a judicious system of protection would neither
indiscriminately prohibit, nor indiscriminately admit,
foreign articles. It would subject the claim of every
foreign commodity to be admitted into the first market
in the world, (and as well the places from which, as
the terms on which, it should be admitted) to a sepa-
rate and rigorous inquiry.
The following commodities would, it is conceived,
make good their claim.
EXTERNAL TRADE. llO
First : Articles which our soil and climate cannot
produce, such as tea, coffee, sugar, indigo, cochineal,
spices, gums, oils.
Secondly : Articles which we could produce at home,
but at a disproportionate cost. Wine, for example,
could be manufactured in England. But the cost
would be many times the cost of Spanish, Portuguese,
or French wine, to say nothing of its inferior quality.
It may, as we have seen, be perfectly true, that by
buying foreign articles instead of home-made articles,
the nation loses the entire value on one side of the
exchange, and yet on the other hand true, that to
manufacture wine instead of buying it from abroad,
would be a losing process even to the nation at large.
Thirdly : The raw material of manufactures, such as
raw cotton, raw silk, wool, timber, and hides. Some
of them cannot be had at all, except from abroad ; and
others not in sufficient abundance to supply the indus-
try of our artisans. The old rule was, to admit them,
but in a state as little manufactured as possible.
Fourthly and chiefly : The produce of our own colo-
nies and dependencies.
We now import annually from the United States of
America, raw cotton to the value of more than ten
millions sterling. The whole of this amount of cotton,
and five times as much if it were wanted, might, under
116 PROTECTION WOULD DESTROY
a proper Colonial system, be supplied by our own East
This sum of ten millions sterling is now entirely
American income. It, and much more, might have
been entirely British income.*
This sum of ten millions now constitutes a market
for American produce, and at present (though it is to
be feared, but for a short and precarious season) for
some British produce. It, and much more, might have
constituted a permanent, certain, and increasing market
for British produce exclusively.
Suppose British cotton to be but one per cent dearer
than American cotton, the popular political economy
would still say, ''Buy American." See the conse-
quence. The British empire loses ten millions and
gains a hundred thousand pounds : that is to say, it
loses nine millions nine hundred thousand pounds
sterling per annum ; and moreover loses a market of
that annual amount.
Nor is this all. By far the largest quantity of
American cotton is brought over in American ships.
Nearly the whole amount of freight constitutes income
of American ship-owners, a market to American indus-
try, a nursery for American seamen. If it came from
British India it might have constituted income of
British ship-owners, a market to British industry, a
nursery for British seamen.
* These observations would apply with still greater force to the substi-
tion of home grown flax for cotton : if that were possible.
EXTERNAL TRA.DE. 117
We say nothing of the uncertainty of the American
supply, a falling off in which precipitates at once
populous English cities, whole English counties, into
ruin ; nothing of the rapidly increasing cotton manu-
factures of the United States, buying away from us
the cotton in their own markets, and by our policy
enabled to do so. Nothing of French or other com-
petitors for American cotton.
We say nothing of the obvious, and truly English
and Imperial policy, which counsels an intimate con-
nexion with our dominion in the East, greater than
x\lexander^s, and capable of multiplying ten-fold the
prosperity and greatness of the British Empire. A
dominion, which as long as it remains ours, prevents
us from being overshadowed by those enormous states
and confederations of mankind, which the improved
modes of communication will assuredly produce, — by
the vast extent either of the American RepubHc, or
of the Russian Empire.
We say nothing of the prosperity of a hundred rail-
lions of Indian subjects, who never knew the blessings of
peace and order till they were submitted to the British
sway : whose well-being and ultimate civilization is
bound up in their connection with Great Britain.
If it be objected that an increase in the price of the
raw material will injure the export of the manufactured
article, the answers are manifold :
First : There, will in the long run be no increase at
all in the price of the raw material. It is even proba-
118 PROTECTION WOULD DESTROY
ble that by the introduction of railways, and improved
means of cleaning the cotton_, our own Indian cotton
will very soon be, both cheaper and better, than ever
American cotton has been.
Next, even if there were for a short time a small
increase in the price of the raw material, that w^ould
hardly be appreciable in the price of the naanufactured
article. For that price is compounded, not only of the
value of the raw material, but of many times its value
in labour, machinery, rent, profit, and freight.
Again : Supposing even some small temporary de-
crease in the foreign sale, an entirely new market to
the extent of ten millions per annum is opened up in
India. That market is not a precarious one, depend-
ing on the caprice and fluctuating policy of other
states, but a certain and permanent one, under our
What we ought to do with cotton, we used to do
with sugar. We had tropical provinces in the West
Indies almost as valuable and prosperous as English
counties ; supplying us from our own soil with sugar,
and taking payment entirely in British articles. We
could add to them, if need were, the East Indies and
the Mauritius. There is no limit to the possible pro-
duction of British sugar ; there is no limit to the
production of the articles w^hich would pay for it.
Alas ! a very different policy has prevailed. We
see only a part of the sad consequences in the ruin
and disaffection of our noble West India possessions.
EXTERNAL TRADE. ] 19
and the gradual, but certain, decline of the great West
As with cotton and sugar, so almost with every trop-
ical or natural product that can be named, our colonies
would supply us, furnishing certain and increasing
markets in return.
Our foreign trade may have already reached, or even
passed, its culminating point ; our colonial trade is
but just rising.
By giving the colonies a preference, the protective
system, so far from diminishing, would ultimately and
infinitely increase the external trade.
Fifthly: The protective system would not exclude
when necessary, the importation of the food of the
The advantages of a low exchangeable value of food
cannot be over-rated. But there is one thing of much
greater importance than even its cheapness, and that
is, its accessibility. Food should not only cost as
little labour as possible, but be attainable by him who
has labour to offer.
With a view as w^ell to the steady low value, as to
the accessibility of food by the people at large ; with
a view to the full and various employment of the peo-
ple in its production : with a view to the improved
and complete cultivation of the soil, — a judicious sys-
tem of protection would give certain advantages to its
production at home and in the colonies.
* See ante, p. 103.
120 PROTECTION WOULD DESTROY EXTERNAL TRADE.
A protection to this extent, — a protection at least
fully countervailing all national and parochial burthens
on the land, is just, politic, and absolutely necessary.
A protection extending further, for the mere purpose
of keeping up rents, is utterly indefensible.
Whether the duty should be a fixed, or a graduated
one, may be very doubtful. But there can be little
doubt, that it should be a discriminating one. The
neighbouring ports, that take nothing from us, will
otherwise (as they are already doing) shut out our bet-
ter, but more distant, customers.
And what encouragement is there to deal with us,
when we treat those who do, and those who do not,
exactly alike ? Except that we take care to secure
to those who do not deal with us, the full advantage of
Indeed recent legislation has placed them practically
nearer to the greatest British markets, than even our
own growers in England and Ireland. Eor the foreigner
is allowed to avail himself of much cheaper shipping.
Lastly, as we have already observed, to deal with
those who deal with you again, doubles instead of
diminishing external trade.
PUBLIC EXPENDITURE. 121
" The distress of the country is owing to taxes, and
the expenditure of government."
The multitude are sure to say this, when mistaken
legislation has impoverished them. But it is a fallacy.
We have but to look back on modern European
history, or even to open our eyes on what is now before
us, and we shall see nations highly taxed, prospering
as much, and a great deal more, than many others
taxed very little, or scarcely at all.
Nay, we have seen an increase of taxation followed
by no diminution of prosperity, and a diminution of
taxation attended with no increase of prosperity.
Nor do the reasons of these phenomena lie far be-
neath the surface.
It is comparatively easy to discover who ultimately
pay the direct taxes, such as the income-tax, and the
assessed-taxes. These taxes are a mere transfer of
value from the hand that pays, to the exchequer that
receives, and distributes again. The nation at large
is neither poorer nor richer, for the tax or the transfer.
122 EFFECT or
The incidence of indirect taxation is a question of
great difficulty. The learned in such matters^ have
not settled, and probably never will settle, on whom
the indirect taxes fall. Very different opinions arc
entertained. Some think they fall always on the con-
sumer ; others that they are not paid by the labouring
classes, whose wages, we are told, rise to what is neces-
sary to keep up the supply of labour. It is clear, how-
ever, that in some proportions or other they are paid
by the people at large.
It may be said of both direct and indirect taxation
in the aggregate, that the people at large, in some un-
known proportions, pay the taxes.*
And it may also be said with truth, that, in time of
peace and domestic expenditure, the people ultimately
receive the taxes again. When they suffer from taxa-
tion, it must be either because foreigners receive the
* Yet there is an exception. It may sound paradoxical, but it is true,
that there is a species of taxation, by Avhich the people may sometimes be
Customs' duties on imports are not always paid by the consumer. They
are often paid in whole, or in part, by the foreign importer. It often
happens that the foreigner makes in the British market a great deal more
than is sufficient to remunerate him. He can often afford to pa}-- a duty,
and yet sell at the same price. In this case the whole duty is so much
gained ; or, more frequently, he can afford to pay the duty and raise the
price of his commodity to a less extent than the duty. Here the differ-
ence between the duty and the rise in price is gained. Lord Stanley (in
a speech deserving for other reasons the perusal of every man in England,)
lately called the attention of the House of Lords to these considerations,
and their bearing on an import duty on provisions.
PUBLIC EXPENDITURE. 123
taxes ; or else because taxation causes a vicious distri-
bution of property ; or lastly^ because it subtracts value
from the employment of productive labour.
Let us examine a little more closely^ bow the taxes
Take the larger half. In round numbers nearly
thirty millions are paid every year to discharge the in-
terest on the national debt^ funded and unfunded.
No doubt, wherever the stock is held by foreigners,
the dividends received by the foreigner are in the
nature of tribute, and impoverish the country, just as
the payment of tribute would do.
It is to be feared that, during the late troubles in
Europe, (coinciding, as they have done, with a great
excess of our imports over our exports) the portion of
the debt due to foreigners has been very much aug-
mented. The purchase of stock by foreigners, distrust-
ing the investments of their own country, has redressed
an adverse balance of trade, but leaves us in debt to
them, with interest to pay till the debt is discharged.
When it is discharged, it will be by selling the stock,
and taking the produce out of the country, without
Nevertheless, much the larger portion of the debt
is still due to British subjects, resident in the United
Kingdom. The contribution of the dividends by the
nation on the one hand, and the receipt of the divi-
dends by a portion of the nation on the other, can be
124 EFFECT OF
no direct loss to the whole nation. A, B and C pay to
A, one of the three ; A, B and C together, are as rich
as they were before.
Nor is it clear that the artificial distribution thus
introduced is very disadvantageous.
It is proved by actual returns that the number of
large fund-holders is very small. And even of that
number many are trustees^ many more are public
companies, such as Insurance Companies, who repre-
sent a plurality of persons in moderate circumstances.
It is probable that the bulk of the dividends are
ultimately received by a multitude of persons, not much
above the poorer classes. So that as far as the bulk of
the public debt is concerned, the taxes are received
again by a numerous class of the nation, and those not
in affluent circumstances. What the awful effects of a
suspension of public credit would in this country be,
it is fearful to contemplate ', but as a set off to those
calamities, the suspension of the payment of dividends
would afford no relief. By as much as one portion of
the nation would, by the suspension, be richer ; by so
much, another portion of the nation would, by the same
suspension, be poorer.
It is said that the dividends are substracted from
productive expenditure, and added to unproductive
This is assertion only. It is doubtful whether either
proposition be true. It is probable that the greater
part of what is handed over to the tax-gatherer^ would
PUBLIC EXPENDITURE. 125
be spent by the tax-payer, mucli in the same way as
by the receiver of the dividend. And if there be cases
in which the tax- payer would employ his contribution
more for the advantage of the nation, than the receiver
of the dividend, there are, on the other side, cases
where the receiver of the dividend employs it better for
the nation, than the tax-payer. In how many cases
are dividends received by trustees for infants, who
afterwards employ their property in trade ; — by bankers
for their customers ; — by public companies of acknow-
ledged utility for their members, or their customers ?
It seems therefore to be true that the interest of the
debt does not, so far as it is paid to British subjects,
impoverish the nation : it is a mere transfer of value.
' Then it will be objected, " According to you, the na-
tional debt is no evil." By no means. We do not assert
that no mischief was done by the creation of the debt,
we only say that none is done by the honourable
payment of the interest. The value that evaporated
in gunpowder can never be recovered back. The evil
lay in contracting the debt. If it had never been con-
tracted, the public creditor might perhaps have had
what he nov^ has, and yet the nation have been obliged
to pay him no dividend. In fact, as long as the punc-
tual payment of interest is continued, so long is the
full mischief of the past wasteful expenditure of the
public resources postponed. When the day arrives
that a half-year's interest cannot be paid, then at
length will yawn that awful chasm in which the
126 EFFECT OF
national wealth has been swallowed up. On that fatal
morning, no matter how rich you are, your banker
must dishonour your check. The comfortable balance
due to you has vanished with the banker's balance due
to him from the government. You can have no credit
with your tradesmen. Your humble neighbour is no
better off. There are no funds to pay wages, and none
even for public charity.
There remain to be considered the civil and military
This also, as far as it goes to British subjects, is but
a transfer of value. Yet it is clear, that large bodies
of men on land or sea, kept in unproductive employ-
ment, are a loss so far as industry, otherivise pro-
ductive, is thus diverted to unproductive purposes.
It is hard to see that it is loss to a greater extent, but
that extent probably falls very far indeed short of the
Still, as a general rule, taxes paid to British subjects
are but a transfer of value, though they may, and no
doubt do, in many cases produce injurious effects.
But to regard the public revenue of the nation as so
much value destroyed, or in popular language so much
money thrown into the sea, is a very gross delusion.
Another consideration will fortify this view.
The annual public revenue of the United Kingdom
has been, since the peace, in round numbers, fifty
millions a year. Fifty millions for thirty-four years
amount to seventeen hundred millions sterling. Can
PUBLIC EXPENDITURE. 127
any man believe that we are in the same condition as
if this sum of seventeen hundred milHons sterling had
been paid in tribute to a foreign country ?
But we have seen above, that to import from abroad
commodities that we might have produced nearly as
cheap at home, unless we secure the employment of
the displaced labour in some other way,* is really a
dead loss to the nation — is really a tribute paid to a
foreign country. That tribute is now paid, and paid
unnecessarily, to the extent of millions, and tens of
What then are we to think of the wisdom of financial
reformers, who, disregarding a fatal drain of life-blood
like this, begrudge a few hundred thousands, distri-
buted within our borders, for the defence and security
of the empire.
How is it, that complaining of the debt and the taxes,
they double the exchangeable value of the sovereign,
and the shilling, and give every tax-eater two bushels
of corn, where he had but one before ?
How is it that we have borne the burthen of our
public expenditure so long, and have been, nearly all
the while, richer and more prosperous, than all other
None will attribute the distress we now experience
to taxes and government expenditure, who are not
resolved to shut their eyes to the true causes.
* See ante, Chapters IV. and V,
138 EFFECT OF PUBLIC EXPENDITURE.
In truthj under a wise, but very different policy,
the public burthens of the United Kingdom would not
be felt. The resources of the British Empire are far
more than adequate to much heavier ones. This is
not conjecture or assertion merely ; we know that they
have actually been found so.
INCREASE OF EXPORTS AND IMPORTS. 129
" Increase of exports and imports is the index of
Quietly assumed. But is it consistent either with
reason or with facts ?
We have seen how much more important home
production is, than foreign production.* Yet the
superseding of home-production by foreign production,
is a process which necessarily increases imports, and
will generally be followed by some increase, (though it
may not be a proportionate one) of exports also. When
you buy from abroad to the value of a million sterling
a year, shoes which you used to make at home, and
annually export to pay for them a million worth of
cotton and other manufactures, which your own shoe-
makers used to consume at home, you increase the
annual imports a million sterling, and you increase
the annual exports a million sterling also. But your
manufacturers of cotton and other goods, get no more
than they had before.
Now look at your shoemakers. They have lost an
* Chapters IV. and V.
130 INCREASE OF
income of a million sterling a year. Their expenditure
to that extent is gone. The home- market to that ex-
tent is gone. The annual product of the labour of the
country is diminished by a million sterling a year.
And there is no compensation for all this. Thus a
real blight on industry, a real loss to the nation^ may
shew itself_, not only in increased imports, but in in-
So on the other hand, suppose Ireland, instead of
importing flax from abroad, should henceforth grow it
at home. That would wonderfully relieve her distress.
But flax would no longer figure in her imports, nor
the articles that pay for it, in her exports ; for they, or
their equivalent, would be used by her own people, now
idle and starving. Here would be an example of im-
provement, indicated by a decrease both of exports and
Superficial observers point to your exports and im-
ports, and say, distress is imaginary, because these
have both increased. If there are customs' duties,
then they further point to the customs, and say truly,
your revenue has increased.
But patient and unprejudiced inquirers, who, dis-
trusting alike great names, and popular notions, will
sift the matter to the bottom, find out that the true
state of things is this. Domestic exchanges are unregis-
tered, and do not figure in any returns. Supersede them
by foreign ones, and these foreign ones are immediately
doubly registered, published, and paraded, both as ex-
EXPORTS AND IMPORTS. 131
ports and imports. When domestic production and
mutual domestic exchange flourished, there was no
register of their existence. When half the benefit leaves
the Englishman, and passes over to the foreigner, there
is no register of the death of the deceased domestic
industry. But the entry of the superseding foreign
industry into the home-market is registered, and the
departure of the products of home industry, to be en-
joyed and spent by a foreigner, instead of being en-
joyed and spent by an Englishman, is registered also.
And the new direction which the exchanges have taken,
being no longer latent but public, government can
lay hold of both exports and imports in their transit,
tax them, and then point to an increase of revenue.
So far, therefore, from an increase of exports and
imports, necessarily betokening an increase of the
annual products of the land and labor of a country, or
the improved condition of the people ; reason shews
us that they may he symptomatic of the very reverse.
They certainly, therefore, are no criterion or index
of national prosperity.
Now let us see whether facts shew them to be such
The most prosperous of all nations, for the last fifty
years, has been the United States. Yet the exports
and imports of the American Union, notwithstanding
its vast augmentation in population, are not very much
greater than they were in 1805. It is the unregistered
133 INCREASE OF EXPORTS AND IMPORTS.
home production, and home trade, doubling, and quad-
rupling over and over again, that has created this
Next to the United States comes the United King-
dom. The increase of exports and imports with us,
though great, has not been at all proportionate to the
increase of wealth, and very much less than the increase
of the exports and imports of France, whose progress
has been much behind ours.
In France, indeed, the increase of exports and im-
ports has been immense, since 1805 and even since
]815. But her progress in wealth and population is
infinitely less than that of the United States, or even
that of the United Kingdom.
^' All commodities should he rendered as cheap as
No word is so seductive as the word cheap, yet no
word has more meanings. " The world/' says Home
Tooke, " is governed by words." A word so alluring
and yet so ambiguous, is, of all other words, surest of
conquest and dominion. Accordingly it has subju-
gated the popular opinion of England.
First, cheapness, in its strict and proper sense,
means cheapness in money. A thing is in this sense
cheap, when it fetches but little money, — but little
of the precious metals ; when a little money will pur-
chase it. This is the first sense of cheapness.
But secondly, cheapness may also be taken, and by
political economists is often taken, to mean a low
exchangeable value, that is, a low value, estimating
that value in other commodities. In this sense a ton
of iron is cheap if it can be purchased with but little
corn, but little cloth or silk, but few hats or shoes.
This is the second sense of the word cheapness.
A third sort of cheapness is a cheapness produced by
low wages of labour. The cheapness of shirts made by
poor needle-women at four-pence a dozen.
Cheapness, fourthly is taken to mean a low value as
estimated in the labour bestowed on an article. When
little labour has been employed, and little is necessary
to produce an article, then it is said to be cheap.
Let us now briefly examine, how far these several
sorts of cheapness are beneficial, and to whom they
Take the first sort of cheapness — cheapness mea-
sured merely by money.
It is an observation lying on the surface, that this
sort of cheapness may be brought about, not only by
the abundance and accessibility of other commodities
when compared with the precious metals, but by the
scarcity and inaccessibility of the precious metals when
compared with other commodities.
It is further evident, that if society were starting
afresh, if there were no existing debts or obligations,
then this sort of cheapness would be a matter of per-
fect indifi'erence. The dearness or cheapness of things
would depend on the aggregate amount of the precious
metals, compared with the aggregate mass of all other
commodities. If there were much gold and silver,
things would be dear ; if there were little gold and
silver, things would be cheap. But the little gold and
silver in the one case^ would be worth as much as the
larger quantity of gold and silver in the other case,
and would effect the necessary exchanges equally well.
In itself therefore, this first sort of cheapness is a
matter of perfect indifference.
But suppose an old society, in which the industrious
classes are oppressed with very large engagements,
pubhc and private. Suppose a public debt of 800
millions sterling, and an amount of private debts and
mortgages far exceeding even that immense sum ; then
this first sort of cheapness is no longer a matter of
indifference, it is a matter of supreme importance.
If it were brought about by lessening the labour
necessary to produce other commodities, then it might
be a blessing to all parties. But that would be cheap-
ness of the fourth description.
If, on the other hand, cheapness in money value
were brought about by diminishing the quantity or
augmenting the value of the precious metals, say, for
the sake of illustration, by one half, would that be a
national benefit or a national evil ?
It is manifest, that it would at once double the
national debt, that it would at once double every
mortgage, that it would at once double every debt and
It would, on the other hand, double the real income
of all tax-eaters, mortgagees, and creditors. Every
fund-holder, for example, would receive two bushels of
corn instead of one, two yards of cloth instead of one ;
in other words, two bushels of corn and two yards of
cloth, instead of one, must be sold to pay him.
It would be, in great measure, a transfer from the
industrious to the idle classes. Every man in trade
would find his stock-in-trade decline in price, and the
proportionate amount of his debts and incumbrances
While the appreciation of the precious metals, or
of the currency, is going on, there will be universal
distress and paralysis of industry. On the other hand,
it has been truly observed by David Hume, that a pro-
gressive depreciation of the precious metals is always
accompanied with an expansion of industry.
It is said in answer to this, that the poor sufi'er in
their wages by a diminution in the value of money.
The answer is, that they gain much more than they
lose, by the additional demand for labour; and that
their wages, as a general rule, will accommodate them-
selves to the difi'erence.
It seems therefore clear that a mere cheapness of
the first sort, a mere cheapness in money, though in
itself a matter of indifi'erence, is, to a country over-
burthened and bound down like England, with pecu-
niary obligations of all sorts, so far from being a
benefit, that it is the greatest possible curse and
One-sided free trade causes the first description of
cheapness by augmenting the value of money.*
* To what extent would not recent measures have augmented it, but
We come now to examine the second sort of cheap-
ness, that is, cheapness in the sense of a low value
measured in other commodities.
One, or so77ie commodities may, it is true, be cheap
in this sense ; but all commodities, or even the bulk
of commodities, cannot. The cheaper you make some,
the dearer you make others by that very process. If
the cheapness of commodities is measured merely by
the quantity of other commodities for which they will
exchange, the dearness of some is what makes the
cheapness of others, and the cheapness of these is what
makes the dearness of the first.
This second sort of cheapness of all commodities is
therefore impossible — it is a contradiction in terms.
The third sort of cheapness, — a cheapness attained
by low and inadequate wages of labor, is a murderous
and suicidal cheapness.
The cheaper things are with this cheapness, the
dearer they are to the laborer. The less of them the
laborer can get. The less he has to spend. The cheaper
things are with this cheapness, the more the incomes
of the working classes fall ofi*. The more surely you
ruin the largest and best of all markets, which is
the expenditure of the laboring classes.*
for California. The value of money, and the rate of
very different things, as we shall see more fully hereafter.
* Every Chancellor of the Exchequer in England, every collector of
the Octroi in France, knows by experience, that the greatest expenditure
is by the laboring classes.
Where foreign goods made by laborers, worse fed,
worse lodged, worse clothed than the Englishman, are
introduced into the English market, they bring with
them this cheapness. It is contagious. Those foreign
goods had better be infected with the cholera or the
Now for the fourth sort of cheapness, viz. a low
value measured by the labor necessary to produce a
This fourth sort of cheapness may be, and ought to
be, a gain to all classes of society. This is the cheap-
ness created by more fertile soils,* improved methods
of cultivation, more powerful manures, improved
machinery t the subjugation to human uses of the great
* Very few ttings are of more importance than cheap food. That a
low price of corn brings down rents is no objection at all. If that were
all, it is a mere transfer of wealth from the rich to the poor, tending to
redress that fearful inequality of condition between the very rich and the
very poor, which is one of our greatest miseries and dangers. You could,
if you chose, bring about this cheapness by the better cultivation and in-
creased fertility of your own dominions ; and it would then be a great
and unmixed national blessing. But if you attempt it by discouraging
domestic production of food, and introducing food grown by worse paid
laborers, the poor will be greater losers by such a cheapness, than even
the rich themselves. They will have far less cheap bread, than they
had dear bread before. Kilrush market is now abundantly supplied
with the cheapest Indian corn, and the cheapest Russian wheat. Look
at the laborer.
f Nothing can be more ungrateful and short-sighted, than the com-
plaints of machinery superseding human labor. Where it does so, it is
a mitigation of the primaeval curse. The hand might as well complain
of the spade or the plough. But then on the other side, improved modern
powers of nature, such as steam, electricity, and
mechanical and chemical agencies. This cheapness
results from a more complete and extended dominion
of man over nature. It is the gift of a beneficent
Providence, to be wisely improved, and directed to the
benefit of the masses.
I say, to be wisely improved and used ; for even this
cheapness is of itself but the raw material of national
wealth and happiness. Alone, it will leave the masses
of the people as miserable as it finds them. We know
this by sad experience.
Of the four sorts of cheapness, therefore, the first
is injurious to us, the second impossible, the third
destructive, the fourth but a means to an end.
For the benefit of the masses, it is not enough to
make things cheap, even in the best sense of the word.
What is wanted is, to make them accessible, attainable,
by the multitude. By making things cheap, you do
machinery is a new and highly artificial thing. It will disturb the old
and simple relations between the workman and his employer— to the
injury of the workman, unless there be appropriate artificial regulations.
Most justly does Mr. Mill complain that improved machinery has not yet
lightened the toil of a single human being. It might be added, that as
yet, instead of always benefiting the workman, it has too often injured
his condition. At all events, nohow and nowhere does he (and he is
THE nation) get his full share of the benefit. Why? Because men are
slow to perceive that the introduction of so artificial an element will
necessitate other artificial arrangements. The Factory Act is a right be-
ginning — but only a beginning. Modern machinery engrafted on the rude
primitive relations between employers and employed, is the ' new piece
on the old garment,' which will make the rent worse.
not necessarily make them accessible. Nay, there are
some modes of making things cheap, which as we have
seen will make them less accessible to the multitude
than they were before.
What the masses want, is, the means of purchase.
If the means of purchase be wholly absent, it is a mat-
ter of supreme indifference to them, whether things be
dear or cheap. The only means of purchase which
they possess are the wages of their labour. In a word,
employment is their means of purchase.
You may have cheapness without full and various
employment for the masses. That is cheapness, but
without plenty. You may have full employment for
the masses at good wages without cheapness; that may
be competency or even plenty without cheapness. The
aim of all good legislation should be to unite the two
blessings, cheapness and plenty. But if, as often
happens, in the imperfection of human affairs, you have
to choose not only between two evils, but sometimes
also between two good things, inconsistent with each
other, — which of the two is to be chosen — cheapness
for the benefit of a few, or plenty for the benefit of all?
Undoubtedly, plenty. Then the study of every
government, iu order to produce plenty, permanent
plenty, plenty widely diffused and extending to the
masses, should be, the full and various employment
of the people. The test of every measure ought to be,
and used to be this. — Will it promote the employment
of the people ?
It has been already shewn, and on the authority of
Adam Smith himself, that the production of articles at
home which can be made or grown somewhat cheaper
abroad, though it should not produce cheapness, does
promote the employment of the people, does give them
the means of purchase, does produce plenty — perma-
nent plenty —plenty widely diffused — plenty extending
every where to the masses of the population : and that
the opposite policy, even under the most favourable
circumstances, though it should and will create cheap-
ness, will destroy the means of purchase, and introduce
a real and spreading want.
We have already seen * that Adam Smith himself
declares and proves that foreign production, compared
with domestic production, gives but one half the
ENCOURAGEMENT TO THE NATIVE INDUSTRY OF THE
And this under favourable circumstances, and with
* Chapter IV.
f It is not pretended that Adam Smith is everywhere consistent with
himself on this subject. He certainly is not. For this admission alone
destroys the theory of free-trde. Mr. Horner himself, speaking of
Smith, calls him a loose writer.
" Free importation is the source of i^lenty ; protection,
There are two sorts of plenty. One sort of plenty is
a mere relative plenty, where there is more than in-
dividual consumers can buy and 'pay for. Such
plenty as exists in an Irish market, where the starving
poor eye wistfully, but in vain, the American flour
and Indian meal. This spurious sort of plenty, free
importations and one-sided free-trade may tend to
create. For they diminish and destroy the means of
But another, and a much better sort of plenty, is an
abundance, at once absolute and accessible. When
there is as much as the masses want, combined with
accessibility. When there is enough for the multitude,
and the multitude can get at it and enjoy it.
This is the sort of plenty at which governments should
aim. This is the only plenty by which the masses
profit. But this plenty depends on the means of pur-
chase enjoyed by the multitude ; their means of pur-
chase depend on their full and various employment ;
their full and various employment^ on their producing
as much as possible at both ends of the exchange.
Production at both ends of the exchange creates at
once, not mere relative plenty, but absolute abun-
dance on both sides, and the means of purchase on
both sides. If you produce on one side only, you
sacrifice half your abundance ; you are dependent on
the capricious and variable extent of a foreign market,
not under your own control ; and you are subject to a
periodical check and glut. Produce at both ends, and
in due proportion, and what would otherwise cause a
check and a glut, will but augment the means of pur-
chase, as well as the overflowing and superabounding
plenty. You have at once abundance combined with
accessibility. An universal glut is, as M. Say has well
demonstrated, an impossibility. Suppose that in this
country, wheat, raw cotton, wool and timber, could be
produced in abundance as unlimited as knives and
pocket-handkerchiefs, who does not see that the con-
sequence is, not a glut, but an enormous consumption,
an immediate plenty and ease of circumstances, for the
whole population all round ?
Nay, suppose we had on the other side of us, no
further distant than Ireland, another country as large
as Ireland, unoccupied, able to grow not only wheat
wool and timber enough, but cotton enough, and sugar
enough, and all other tropical productions enough, to
supply all our deficiencies. Again, there is at once the
same immediate abundance, and ease of circumstances.
But we actually already have this imaginary Ireland.
Steam has brought our timber and wool, our sugar,
and cotton, and corn-growing provinces almost as
near to us, as Ireland once was.
Moreover the real Ireland is half waste, England
half cultivated, some of Scotland actually laid down to
waste. But the resources of the East and West
Indies and Canada, are not only not developed, but
The means of producing on both sides of the ex-
change, — the means of producing all things, and in all
cHmates, — the means of producing plenty in the best,
fullest, richest sense of the word, we already have.
Plenty not only to satisfy the wants of all, but plenty
to confer on all the means of purchase. Plenty, un-
limited, permanent, universal.
But we are " magnas inter opes inojoes." Our theo-
ries blind, paralyse, and starve us.
" England has a greater capital than any other
In one sense this position is true ; in another sense it
is at least doubtful, perhaps false.
What is CAPITAL ? A question that has engendered
endless strife among political economists. But these
disputes are mere logomachies. Every man has a right
to employ the word capital, or any other word, in any
sense he pleases. If he will but tell us exactly what
he means ; then, whether he employ the word in the
right sense or not, is a mere question of propriety of
language. It comes to this, — Is the word when used
in this man's sense, good and usual English or not ?
A trivial question of no scientific importance at all.* " I
will never quarrel about words," says Mr. Locke,
^ with him who grants my meaning."
But though it be a matter of no importance in what
* Not that purity of style is to be undervalued. It consists in never
unnecessarily employing any word, or a word in any sense, not justified
by the usage of the best authors. Purity of style is not only a great and
rare literary merit, but is essential to the permanence of every living lan-
guage and every literary reputation. Without it the writers of one age,
are barbarous, if not unintelligible to the next.
sense you choose to use a word, it is of the last impor-
tance, first, to let us clearly understand in what sense
you do mean to use it, and next to keep strictly to that
sense without changing it.
This however is no easy task. There are many
words that continually change their sense with the
subject and context. Capital is one of these words.
The controversies about capital, are therefore like the
disputes about the colour of the Chameleon.
If by capital you mean the aggregate of mere visible
and tangible things, possessing exchangeable value,
such as land or the improvements of land, buildings,
railways, ships, stocks of food, clothing, or specie, —
then, in this sense of the word, it is by no means clear
that England has the greatest capital of any nation in
the world. It is doubtful whether in this sense, France,
the United States, or even Kussia, do not surpass her.
It is at least evident, that when we say England
has the largest capital in the world, we include some-
thing else in the word capital. What is it ?
We include the power of raising money, or means
for enterprizes, great and small of all sorts, public and
private. In other words credit. — What is credit ?
Trust in the solvency and punctuality of the paymaster.
Touch a country with this talisman, and capital even
in the other and material sense springs up instantly.
It does not accrue from savings merely, as modern
political economy poorly and inadequately teaches, but
starts up in huge masses. Instantaneously are created
the very incomes themselves, from which savings are
made.* You now produce first and pay afterwards.
* Take for example the Liverpool and Manchester Railway Company,
or the New River Company. For every hundred pounds expended, there
are two hundred pounds, or possibly a thousand pounds of value created.
Nay, if it is believed before-hand, and rightly believed, that, the enter-
prize will be profitable, the projectors and original proprietors may not
only have their capital permanently doubled, but all the money offered on
loan, and prepaid by strangers before they turn a spadeful of earth. This
multiplication of capital does not come from savings.
Such joint-stock undertakings are but samples of thousands of private
We hear of capital sunk in railways. Suppose a railway to have cost
five millions, and to yield but a moderate return, saj'-, 4 or 5 per cent, and
its shares to be at par. Every shareholder, who has contributed his hun-
dred pounds still has it. A value equivalent to the whole amount spent
still exists in the aggregate value of the shares of the Railway. But, in
the mean time, that railway has conferred on the country the benefit of
spending its value. It has created a net spendable gain of five millions
sterling. (See Chapters IV. and V.) If no part of this five millions
would otherwise have been productively employed, then the whole of this
five millions is not only net gain, but additional or surplus net gain owing
to the making of the Railway. And so of every part of it, which but
for the making of the Railway, would not have been productively ex-
pended. That proportion is, perhaps, in every case very large. So that
wherever we see a moderately successful railway, we behold a monument
of capital created, not of capital sunk. In the end it may, perhaps, be
found that capital created by railways is a compensation for the destroyed
capital represented by the national debt. For only a part of that debt
has been really spent.
You thus augment capital, not merely hy savings, but by creating at
once the very gain or income, out of which savings are made.
What will be the amount of durable capital in the United Kingdom
suddenly created, when a wise government shall turn the unemployed
physical strength of the population on ten millions of waste but improve
able land ?
The hindrance and stumbling-block to production^
want of money (as it is called in popular and inaccu-
rate language,) is taken out of the way. The greater,
the more various the production on all hands, the
more the means of payment abound and overflow, the
ampler and the more insatiable the markets. The
vast increase of wealth material, visible, and tangible,
in its turn augments and justifies credit ; and credit
again multiplies material and solid wealth. National
burthens themselves are, as by the wand of the magician,
transmuted into National wealth.
Nor is there any reason why this general confidence
and affluence should necessarily end (as it has too often
done,) in a glut or a check.
We have already called attention to the admirable
remarks of M. Say, who proves that a general glut of
all commodities is impossible. Industry once aptly
organized — the more you produce all round, the more
you may. We have already seen that every inter-
change of two domestic productions opens no less than
four home markets. It is these sure markets that
sustain production, and make it certainly and per-
manently profitable. It is this certain and durable
profit, that begets trust in the solvency of the pay-
master, that creates, difi'uses, and maintains credit.
While this organization of industry lasts, credit
What has been the amount of capital in the British West Indies, stid-
denly annihilated by the opposite policy ?
What an immense amount of capital are we now suddenly creating
in foreign countries^ by our new commercial policy.
and CAPITAL last and grow too. Indeed much that is
called CAPITAL is but an apt organization of industry.
Now put forth your hand and touch the ark of
public or private credit.
Touch first private credit only.
You have but to disarrange the mutual and profitable
interchange of British productions, each afi'ording the
other not only a full but secure market. Let but one
great branch of Industry lose its market. Three more
markets are (as we have seen) at once closed. A series
of markets is ruined. A check, a glut comes.
Enghsh industry becomes unprofitable. The English
producer is the ultimate paymaster. The means of the
paymaster disappear. Trust in his solvency, and punc-
tuality vanishes. Credit no longer sustains industry.
Capital in the larger sense, disappears by hundreds of
millions at once. Boundless wealth, material plenty,
and industrious energy, give place to universal distrust,
idleness and poverty.
At this hour, Irish property. West India property,
Railway property, illustrate the partial collapse of
Private credit once seriously and generally impaired,
public credit can no longer be preserved. Property is
gone. Universal ruin and public confusion follow.
Where now is England's capital ?
Already it is the United States, and not England,
that are finding the capital to obliterate the Isthmus of
Panama, and pour the commerce of the world over the
vast and populous shores of the Pacific.
150 NEW PLANTING
" The evils of Ireland will work their own cure"
Rusticus expectat dum defluat amnis ; at ille
Labitur et labetur in omne volubilis aevum.
A better state of things in Ireland will never grow,
will never come of itself. A better state of things
may be madej may be created there. Might be created
immediately and permanently. Will be created, when
the let-alone policy is finally abandoned in despair, and
the hollowness of existing notions of Political Economy
is demonstrated by experience, and generally recog-
According to received theories, Ireland ought to be
very prosperous. She is a very large and an eminently
fertile island, in a temperate latitude. She has safe
and capacious harbours, noble rivers, immense water-
power. She possesses great mineral wealth of every
description. In spite of calumnious assertions to the
contrary, her poor, when employed and fed, are the
most laborious of mankind. Our wise men assure us
that it is a vulgar error to suppose, that absenteeism
has been injurious.* Above all, Ireland has had per -
■" See the Chapter on Absenteeism.
fectly free-trade for many, many years, with the
richest nation on earth, and the let-alone system has
had free course.
But in Ireland, as every where else, do not facts
rebuke those received theories ?
What is Ireland's condition ? No description can
describe it, no parallel exists, or ever has existed, to
illustrate it. No province of the Roman Empire ever
presented half the wretchedness of Ireland. At this
day, the mutilated Fellah of Egypt, the savage
Hottentot and New Hollander, the Negro slave, the live
chattel of Georgia, Carolina or Cuba, enjoy a paradise,
in comparison with the condition of the Irish peasant,
that is to say, of the bulk of the Irish nation.
Who is responsible ? Common sense says, and all
Europe and America repeat it,—" Those who have go-
verned Ireland are responsible.^'
Yet it would be unjust to charge Great Britain with
the want either of a kindly feeling or of generosity to
Ireland. The truth is, that partly from the pressure of
other business, but partly and chiefly from the influ-
ence of empty and pernicious theories, Ireland, (except
in the imperfect way in which the peace has been kept,)
has not been governed at all. On principle, every
social and economical abuse has been allowed to run
Proprietors have, on principle, been allowed to lock
up their lands with charges constituting a mortmain,
worse than the mortmain of the middle ages — prevent-
152 NEW PLANTING
ing not only alienation^ but cultivation. To interfere
with contracts between landlord and tenant, so as to
give tbe tenant, (what the public welfare requires he
should have) an interest in the improvement of the
land, has been, and is denounced, as contrary to prin-
ciple ! To interfere with the mode of cultivation,
shocked the political economists. To distribute artifi-
cially not an excessive but a congested population, and
so to put a stop to those clearances, which inflict more
misery than an invasion, was to interfere with the
rights of property. To attempt a provision for the
helpless poor, was to add to Ireland's existing wretched-
ness, the abuses of the English poor-law. To en-
courage artificially any Irish industry, and so to com-
pensate in some degree for the artificial and direct
discouragements to which it had been subject for so
many years, till it was efi'ectually over-laid and finally
smothered by the manufacturing industry of England,
would still be deemed monstrously absurd. But the
injustice of inflicting intolerable burthens on the owners
and occupiers of Irish land, and then exposing them to
competition with those who are subject to no such
burthens, is not perceived.
Our first great measure really directed to the social
condition of Ireland, was the Irish poor-law.
But what a poor law ! and with what other measures
Thirty years ago it was the fashion, among Political
OF IRELAND. 153
Economists^ to speak all manner of evil, not only of
the English poor-laws, but even of the principle of
compulsory relief to the poor. Of late years, this
fashion, like many others, has gone out. It is now
generally conceded, that the inviolability of property,
the extensive and persevering cultivation of the land,
the peaceable and loyal conduct of the masses, the
consequent stability of government, and the marvels of
public and private credit, are in no small degree owing
to institutions so hastily and presumptuously maligned.
What are the principles of the old English poor-law ?
They are these three : Eirst, that the poor shall be
maintained. Secondly, that they shall be employed —
in the language of the forty-third of Elizabeth, " set
on work,^^ not maintained in idleness. Thirdly, that
this shall be done, not by the central government, but
by the poor man's richer neighbours in districts of
moderate size, to which the poor belong, and in which
they are settled.
Originally there was no law of settlement, but in
about fifty or sixty years after the compulsory mainte-
nance of the poor was established in England, the law
of settlement was clearly seen to be a necessary corol-
lary, from the maintenance of the poor by districts.
It was accordingly soon introduced.
Various modes of acquiring and transmitting a set-
tlement have from time to time been introduced and
modified by statute. At present, every native of Eng-
land has his parish in which he is settled ; and there
154 NEW PLANTING
are some ten or a dozen modes in which his settlement
may be changed, or communicated to others.
Thus on the one hand, the exclusive rights of pro-
perty are rigorously upheld ; and, on the other hand,
the maintenance and employment of the poor, belong-
ing to the parish, is the first charge on the land.
I say employ merit J as well as maintenance : for,
although the direct employment of the poor has been
greatly neglected, partly because of its difficulty, partly
from ignorance of the true principles on which it should
be conducted, and partly because, though directed by
the old statute, it is opposed to some modern theories,
(destined soon to follow their predecessors into oblivion,)
yet the indirect employment of the poor has, by the
English poor-law, been promoted to an incalculable
extent; — and their employment in the most useful
and natural sort of industry. The occupiers and
owners of the land, bound as they are to support the
poor settled in their several parishes, have for the
most part, chosen to support them as labourers, rather
than as paupers. And the grateful earth has well
repaid the toil. This artificial system has had a power-
ful effect, in converting many parts of England into
the comparative garden which we now see.
Whether something like the English poor-law be
practicable in Ireland, experience will shew. But,
that a poor-law, merely providing for the relief of the
poor in immense districts — a law having no direct
provision for their employment, and affording scarcely
OF IRELAND. 155
any indirect motive for it, will destroy the proprietors
of land, with no ultimate benefit to the masses of the
population, seems to be clear already.
What interest has an Irish proprietor to exert
himself in maintaining, employing, and improving the
poor on his estate, when that estate is a minute fraction
of an extensive district, swarming with a vast pauper
population, whom his improvements will not reach,
and who will be as idle, wretched, and chargeable as
before. The district is too large for the concert and
joint exertions of all the proprietors. And should
such a concert be attainable, there is nothing to prevent
the influx and chargeability of other paupers, who, as
before the law of settlement in England, will be
attracted to those districts where most is done for the
poor. The existing system discourages and paralyzes,
by rendering fruitless, those well-concerted local efforts
which might change the condition of the peasantry, by
enforcing the cultivation of the land, in any one of the
various ways which experierice should shew to be either
abstractedly the best, or the best adapted to the parti-
What is wanted is this ; — a security to a proprietor
and his immediate neighbours, that if they will do
their duty by the poor in their own immediate neigh-
bourhood, they shall not be chargeable with an undue
proportion of the poor, nor with any other poor; — a
division of labour ; — a fair apportionment of responsi-
bility, proportioned to the means of proprietors.
156 NEW PLANTING
This can only be effected by the introduction of
smaller rating-districts, — by artificially correcting once
for all, the unequal distribution of the poor, — and by
a law of settlement.
A smaller rating-district may be introduced without
difficulty. But how distribute and settle the pauper
population ? How plant Ireland afresh ? or
rather the disorganized rural districts of the South
and West of Ireland.
A gigantic scheme, it must be confessed, and not to
be expected from any statesman professing the let-
alone doctrines, now so fashionable. But quite practi-
cable, and practicable at far less expense, than Ireland
has entailed on England in a single year.
The poor must be removed from districts where they
are too numerous, to those infinitely larger and more
numerous districts, where there is not labour enough
to till the soil.
Every family — every man, woman, and child, must
then be settled by Act of Parliament, in some dis-
trict of moderate size, with suitable provisions for gain-
ing other settlements. So that on the one hand, the
labouring man may not, when his advantage can be
thereby promoted, be prevented from changing his set-
tlement ; and, on the other hand, a proprietor may not,
by a clearance, be able to rid his estate of its fair pro-
portion of the poor. A change of residence alone
must not be a change of settlement.
OF IRELAND. 157
The law would tlien thus address the proprietors of
every district : — ^ Here are your poor. Maintain them
you must : and therefore you had better employ them,
as you will soon discover. They are the first
CHARGE ON THE LAND. But you uow kuow the worst.
Continue to maintain and employ these, the land is
ample, and will leave you a large .surplus, and you
shall have no other poor to maintain.''
We should thus find labour and the land artifi-
cially brought together by law, and married at once.
A fruitful union, which the natural course of things
might or might not have eff'ected, after the lapse of
But the proprietor or occupier might say, and with
justice : ' I have no money. How can I pay either
rates or wages ? '' The law again replies : ^ I don't ask
it. It may be an impossibility. It may be that large
farms and paid labourers are not suited for Ireland, as
they are for England. But still the principle must be
followed out. These eoor are the first charge
ON the land, a portion of the land itself must be
allotted to every family, whom you, or your new dis-
trict, will not or cannot employ. And there must be
no more letting of land in small patches with uncertain
tenure at high rents. The poor must live, and if they
are to live on the land, the interest of the state
requires that they should have every encouragement and
spur to improvement. If, instead of the old precarious
holdings, there be an allotment, if not in fee, at least for
158 NEW PLANTING
a reasonable term^ with a nominal or even a moderate,
but fixed rent, with a right to compensation for improve-
ments, or a power of acquiring the fee, what has hap-
pened on the sandy wastes of the low countries, will
happen in Ireland, — the desert will soon rejoice.* The
public interest and your own requires the sacrifice —
if sacrifice it be/
There is no reason to fear that this great plantation,
once effected, would produce only temporary good.
The fears of the anti-populationists, which would stop
all improvement, are groundless.f The increase of
population, so rapid and reckless under the old and
wretched system, would at once be brought under the
control of other motives, and marriages be placed
under the supervision of those who are interested to
discourage a surplus population.
In what mode the poor when removed, should be
employed, whether as day-labourers, under occupiers,
or under unions ; or as small proprietors, or as long
leaseholders at a low rent or without rent, where the
means of employing labor do not exist, would be de-
termined by experience and by the wants and means
of each locality. In some instances, the credit, that
mighty arm of the Imperial government, might be
* Without venturing to pronounce an opinion on a subject requiring so
much local knowledge ; it ma}', perhaps, be thought that something like
the New Land tenure, proposed by Mr. Scully, Q : C : would not be in-
applicable to many holdings both in England and Ireland. His able book
entitled " The Irish Land Question," will well repay a perusal.
t See some observations on this subject, infra.
OF IRELAND. 159
temporarily required^ but no ultimate pecuniary loss
would be incurred. In all instances the supervision of
the central authority would be indispensable.
Government should be prompted to some such great
effort, not merely by the cry of the landholders that
they are losing their estates, but much more by the
cry of the masses that they are losing their lives.
Humanity, it cannot be too often repeated, is the pro-
foundest policy. But in all questions of duty, delibe-
ration itself is disgraceful, where the duty is clear.
An outcry against what would be called an agrarian
law, might be raised. But what more destructive
agrarian law can be conceived than the present Irish
poor-law ? How are proprietors and encumbrances
most effectually despoiled ? By a sacrifice (perhaps a
temporary sacrifice) of a part of their estate or security,
not only for the preservation, but for the incalculable
augmentation of the value of the residue, — or by a
frightful liability to unknown and. inevitable rates,
and by proceedings for the forced sale of encumbered
But it is said, the population, even if properly dis-
tributed, would yet be too large to be provided for.
Now on this subject all those who have studied the
agricultural resources of Ireland, and compared them
with the existing population, are agreed. Sir Robert
Kane tells us, not only that there is no redundancy of
160 NEW PLANTING
population, but that Ireland might with ease maintain
two and a half times its present numbers : that all
fears of a surplus population are preposterous ; * that
it is its unequal distribution, and not its aggregate
amount, that is to be deplored and corrected. It is
not denied, that there are districts where the popula-
tion is congested ; but then it is proved that there are
others infinitely more extensive, where there is not a
fourth part of the population necessary to do the most
profitable work, and work which might be done almost
without any capital at all. All that is wanted is to
get the people at work on the land ; which if it do
not come about naturally, must be done artificially.
Besides the land already tolerably cultivated, there
are in Ireland no less than six millions op acres of
waste land, of which three millions of acres are
peat bog. Successful experiments, both in England
and Ireland, have recently demonstrated, that this last
sort of waste may at small expense be converted into
the most fruitful soils.f We say nothing of the iron-
stone, the marble, the slate, the stone-quarries, we may
now add the coal, and the other unexplored mineral
* Since these observations were written, it appears that a frightful de-
population has been going on.
t There are two pamphlets which ought to be read by all who have no
leisure to peruse the larger works on Ireland. " A plea for the rights of
industry in Ireland; " and "The Irish difficulty, and how it must be
met ; " both by Mr, Poulett Scrope. Before long, justice will be done
to the sound views of this gentleman, and his energy in disseminating
wealth of Ireland, — nothing of her noble rivers and
After two years of active and wise government in
Ireland, — government deserving the name of govern-
ment, it would be found that there were not hands in
Ireland to do the work required on the land alone.
Next it is said, that capital is wanting to employ the
We have already seen how the ambiguity of the
word CAPITAL deludes us.
But we are further deluded by our English notions.
We assume that Ireland is necessarily to be everywhere
parcelled out in large farms, and cultivated by day-
labourers, in receipt of wages, after the English system.
But it is still a matter of controversy, not only in
England and Ireland, but on the continent, and par-
ticularly in Erance, Which, on the whole, is after all
the best, — large farms or small farms, — la grande, ou
la petite culture. It is certain that in Belgium, mere
occupation, of the most arid and sandy deserts in
Europe by peasant- squatters without capital, has
gradually transformed those deserts into the most fer-
tile land. It is the opinion of many practical persons,
well qualified to decide, that small pieces of land,
occupied by the labourer and his family, not as hereto-
fore, at a high rent with an uncertain tenure, but if not
in fee, at least for a long term, with security for the re-
162 XEW PLANTING
imbui'sement of improvements, is the sort of cultivation
which is best for a large part of Ireland.
But the great merit of a scheme which should
properly distribute the destitute poor over Ireland is
this ; that no general theoretical and premature choice
of any one of these modes of cultivation need be made.
The one which circumstances should render necessary
or preferable in every district, would be adopted.
The option would be with the owners or occupiers
there. If they could severally or jointly employ the
poor as day-labourers, and preferred it, they would be
at liberty to do so ; but if they could not, or would
not, — then an equitable proportion of each district, (to
which every estate must contribute either in money or
land,) should be allotted to the direct support of the poor,
under such general rules as government might approve.
A thousand experiments at once in progress under
different circumstances, — a thousand districts with
their several energies, no longer dissipated over the
area of Ireland at large, but concentrated within their
own limits — the efforts of every locality converging to
one point, and their lights collected into one focus
would soon fuse and evaporate every difficulty through-
out the land.
An expence for arterial drainage would no doubt be
in many districts necessary. But this is an improve-
ment in which several districts might join, which
would materially assist in the employment of the poor ;
for which government aid may or might be had ; and
OF IRELAND. 163
which is absolutely certain to repay the advances many
Then, it may be asked, — how can the poor be re-
moved and housed ?
Of course, removals to unnecessary distances would
be avoided. Railways would already facilitate such
distant ones as might be necessary. In the greater
number of cases, there need be no removal. Tempo-
rary huts, such as railway-labourers use, might await
the leisure for better buildings, and be, in the mean
time, at least as good as Irish cabins formerly where.
No doubt there are difficulties, and no great work was
ever achieved without. But if you would estimate the
difficulties at their real value, compare the expence and
trouble of such an emigration as this, with the expence
and trouble of an emigration across the Atlantic, large
enough to depopulate effectually. There are here no
forests to clear : the land is ready. Remember that
you preserve your blood and bone and sinew and
property at home, instead of contributing them to the
greatness of a foreign state.* Recollect that you will
have the hearty co-operation of the people, and may
have the long days of summer. Compare moreover
the difficulties, with the work to be achieved, the re-
generation of a whole people.
But when you have removed and distributed the
* Since these observations were written, Ireland has been suffering a
depletion of the worse kind, by the forced emigration of her best sons.
164 NEW PLANTING
people, it will be said that in many cases advances of
seed and implements would be required.
It is true. But advances only. Give the new
occupier a proper tenure ; and his success and your
re-payment is not doubtful. Your assistance will give
you a right to insist on the discontinuance, beyond
certain limits, of precarious crops, like the potatoe.
You will soon have a superabundant supply of corn,
not from the Baltic or the Black Sea, but from your
own Irish soil.
Many districts would soon be able to employ more
than their own proportion of hands. They would thus
relieve others, without necessarily disturbing the
chargeability of the poor man to his original district.
But the Irish poor-law has not only failed by reason
of its own inadequate provisions, but because of the
measures of a different kind, which accompanied or
Under any system it is proposed to burthen the
land with the support of the poor. That burthen is
borne for the sake of the public at large. On the
public at large, that burthen ought, as far as possible,
It is equally unjust and impolitic to expose the
land-owner thus burthened, or deprived of portions of
his estate, to an unfair competition with foreign growers,
who are subject to no such burthens or losses. It is
unnecessary — for the land of Ireland, when but moder-
OF IRELAND. 165
ately cultivated, will produce an enormous superfluity.
In taxing foreign corn, there is no injustice to the
public, whom the land will have relieved of so heavy
The Irish poor-law has failed for another reason also.
There is not in the cities and towns of Ireland the
employment which there ought to be, and might be,
and under a different system will be.*
Whence is Ireland's salvation to come ?
From a parliament ? From a popular assembly,
English or Irish ?
Alas ! ' perorating ' members, ^ wind-bags of parlia-
mentary eloquence' as Mr. Carlyle calls them, are
poor saviours. A popular assembly is a legislative
make-shift for ordinary occasions; and long debates
are good for this reason — that the more the members
talk, the less they do. But the just and clear views,
the unfettered and decisive action of a single mind,
must make or save a nation.
Thus, Peter the Great laid the deep and strong
foundations of modern Russia. So Napoleon brought
the new order and enlightened legislation of modern
France out of the chaos of the Revolution.
Who laid the foundation of Anglo Saxon greatness ?
Not a popular assembly, but Royal Alfred. Not the
less Royal that his incessant and self-sacrificing labors
were prosecuted in a palace that we should call a
* See observations on this subject,— infra. ,
166 NEW PLANTING
hovel. We are told that the wind and drafts, that
whistled through, made his candles gutter ; so that
he was obliged to read and write by a horn lantern.
There in gloom, and pain, and sickness, sat the Lycur-
gus of the Great Anglo Saxon race. The legislator
of a thousand years. Illustrious man ! before whom
the pageantry of all the potentates, and the eloquence
of all the parliaments of Europe shrink into insigni-
What would an Irish Alfred now say to poor dis-
organized Ireland ? To its millions of acres of waste,
but cultivable land. To its ruined commerce and
manufactures. To its people crying for work, but
idle and starving. Some flying for their lives from
their native country. Others shut up in workhouses
to be really put to death. To its aristocracy and
gentry plundered and beggared. What would he say
to counsellors, who should try and persuade him that
active and instant measures would infringe some let
alone or free- trade theory. That this frightful' and
universal ruin was therefore the inevitable condition of
the most fertile of all lands.
We know not what he would say. Peradventure he
might think there was no more time for saying. But
we know that he would act : act instantly, act in spite
of all obstacles, act effectually, and change at once
and for ever the whole state of the country.
When are we to see this Irish Alfred ?
When Queen, Lords and Commons shall consent to
OF IRELAND. 167
arm, for a season, some dictator for Ireland with legis-
lative power. He must be a man of rank and wealth,
to exempt him from envy and distrust — of tried in-
tegrity, — of experience in public business — of judg-
ment that has towered above the mist of those theories,
which have lately arisen to blind rulers, as well as
God Almighty send hini; speed him, and hasten his
168 THE CURRENCY.
" The currency should vary, as it would vary, ij it
were entirely metallic."
Here we have the principle of the Act of 1844.
Here also we have the old fallacy, that a natural
state of things is necessarily good ; that it is to be imi-
tated, not to be corrected and improved.
Men talk glibly of variations in the currency. Few
reflect on the awful extent, to which such changes
affect the prosperity of all ranks. The labourer, the
pauper, and the beggar, are as much interested in the
currency- question, as the manufacturer, the shop-
keeper, or the great proprietor of land or funds, and
Alterations in the amount and value of the circulat-
ing medium, are at best, transfers of property — gigantic
robberies— they are often much worse; they involve
wanton destruction of immense property, and stoppage
of industry. The standard of value should be as fixed
and immutable as human art can make it. The Act
of 1844 makes it variable as the wind.
The cure provided by the Act of 1844, for an adverse
balance of trade, and for every export, or tendency to
THE CURRENCY. 169
an export of the precious metals, is a diminution of the
currency — a rise in its value — a fall in the price of all
things — a fearful injury to all the industrious classes.
' I will/ says the law-giver, first ' take no precaution
whatever against an adverse balance of trade. Such
precautions I consider puerile. Next, when the adverse
balance comes to be felt, I will take no measures to
mitigate its pressure, but you shall feel all its conse-
quences just as if the currency were entirely metallic.
That is the natural state of things, and therefore must
be a good one.'
Let us see what the old system was, and how it
acted; and next how the new system has acted, and
There is an intimate connection between a currency
at once safe and invariable, and the protective system.
Under the old system of protection, imports were sys-
tematically controlled by import duties, exports were
for the most part free. There was therefore a constant
tendency in exports to exceed imports — a constant
tendency in the balance of trade to be in favour of this
country. You might consequently, on extraordinary
occasions, (as in the event of a bad harvest necessitating
an extraordinary import of grain and export of bullion,)
safely allow the money-market to be relieved by an ex-
traordinary issue of notes, securely depending on the
ultimate balance of trade, which in the long run, must,
in consequence of your artificial tariff, be in favour of
this country. What you expected always eventually
170 THE CURRENCY.
happened; the balance of trade brought the bullion
back. The issue of notes was then, in easier times,
contracted to its safe and ordinary amount. You
passed through the crisis with little or no alteration in
the value of money. When the bullion went away,
notes, by supplying its place, broke the shock to
credit ; when bullion returned, the withdrawal of those
notes still preserved the equilibrium. The paper por-
tion of the currency, over and above its other advan-
tages, was then an ingenious contrivance in the nature
of a spring or elastic band, which, enabling you safely to
expand the currency in times of distress, and to contract
it again in times of prosperity, thus equalized and
averaged the tension. Lord Ashburton has shewn how
the currency often was relaxed in periods of severe
pressure, with perfect safety. And this occasional
relaxation in times of difficulty was the ordinary course
of proceeding, long before the Bank Restriction Act.
Its advantage was well understood even as early as the
beginning of the last century. Addison, writing in
the time of Queen Anne, says, "When the bullion
leaves us, we make credit supply its place." There
was in the paper currency a union of convertibility with
elasticity. There was a compensatory and self-adjusting
action which artificially secured uniformity of value,
and made a mixed currency, partly metallic, partly
paper, a much better and more invariable standard of
value than a mere metallic currency could possibly
THE CURRENCY. 17J
Now let US see what the new system is.
In the first place, the balance of trade is on principle
ignored and neglected. Yet it is clear that variations
in the rate of exchange can never do more than cor-
rect slight differences. That if a large and unfavour-
able balance arise from a permanent cause, it must
be corrected by payments in bullion.* If there is a
balance to pay, it must be paid either in the precious
metals, or by a sale to foreigners of English securities,
which in the long run is still a payment, though a
postponed payment, in the precious metals. It must,
as it always has been, and will be, paid at last in the
You can now no longer rely on an average favour-
able balance of trade ; there may not only be (as there
will certainly be) periodical drains of the precious
metals, but there may be a perennial stream running
out, and not as formerly, a perennial stream running in.
How is it now proposed to meet the drain when the
misery begins to be felt ?
Not as before, by supplying the void with notes.
That is no longer consistent with the preservation of a
metallic basis to the currency. For we are told, and
truly told, that if new notes were issued as fast as gold
went out, the drain of gold would be continually going
on, till all the gold had left the kingdom, and another
Bank Restriction Act would be inevitable.
No, it is to be stopped violently by a diminution in
* Mr. Mill admits this, Vol. I. p. 164.
172 THE CURRENCY.
the quantity^ and consequent rise in the value, of the
whole currency, just as if it were entirely metallic.
No notes are to be issued in place of the gold that
goes out. Nay, the law may even contract the notes
as the gold goes out. Prices of every thing are to
fall. The industrious classes are to see their property
thus taken from them, and their debts and incum-
brances thus really augmented; industry is to be para-
lyzed, trade stopped, and the pressure of the public
burthens indefinitely aggravated, while the transactions
of the empire are being dwarfed and stunted to fit a
short allowance of the circulating medium of the
Then it is said, prices will be effectually beaten down,
and so at length imports will be checked, exports pro-
moted, and an adverse balance of trade naturally
redressed. Never mind, though this desirable and
necessary result should be produced by the diminution
or cessation of the ordinary operations of industry and
commerce, and the bankruptcy of otherwise solvent
But has it been duly considered what the currency,
the medium of payment, the real money of the United
Kingdom really is ?
How are payments in fact made ?
First, in coin — in gold, silver, and copper.
Secondly, in Banh notes payable to bearer on
THE CURRENCY. 173
But these first two species of money only carry on
the retail or small dealings of the kingdom.
Thirdly, in Bankers' Checks, also payable to bearer
on demand. Bankers' checks are transferable by mere
delivery. They possess the qualities of money. As in
the case of money and bank-notes, honest acquisition
confers title. The payment not only of large, but of
small amounts in Bankers' checks, is enormous and
incalculable. Checks not being subject to stamps, no
means exist of ascertaining their amount.
Fourthly, in Bills of Exchange. The returns from
the Stamp Office of money received for bill-stamps,
will not shew the exact aggregate value. But it is
quite clear from the amount of stamps issued, that the
mere Inland bills of exchange issued and circulated
in the United Kingdom, in a year of ordinary pros-
perity, amount to many hundred millions sterling.^
Lastly, payments are made in money of account.
By money of account is meant transfers in traders'
and bankers' books. Formerly, in some trading cities,
as in Amsterdam, Genoa, Venice, and Hamburgh, this
money of account being payable in imaginary new and
perfect coin of the state, and not in the mixed, worn,
or clipped coin of the actual circulation, bore an agio^
or premium, and was called, as it really was, hank
money. If such money as this existed here only in
* Foreign bills drawn abroad but circulating here, are not included in
this estimate ; for they are not subject to stamps. Their aggregate value
must be very great.
174 THE CURRENCY.
bankers' books, it would still, though of no more value
than so much coin, be not improperly termed hank
money. But money of this description exists, not
only in bankers' books, but in the books of merchants
and others. It has therefore been called, and not in-
aptly, money of account.
This is the money in which the largest of all pay-
ments are made, and in which great payments are
vao^t frequently made. The spread of banks over the
kingdom, and the improved modes of communication,
especially by Railway, give every day an increased cir-
culation to this money of account, and economize and
supersede the use of coin and bank-notes in payments
of any considerable amount. The same sovereign now
circulates in London in the morning, in York in the
afternoon, and does as much work as four or five sove-
reigns would have done twenty years ago.
These are the various sorts of money, in modern use
in Great Britain and Ireland.
It will be seen at a glance how insignificant the
aggregate amount of coin and notes is, compared with
the aggregate amount of bankers' checks, bills of
exchange, and money of account.
But then the qauntity and value of these checks,
bills, and money of account, depend entirely on the
quantity and value of the coin and notes. Diminish
the quantity of coin and notes by five per cent, and
you may augment the exchangeable value of the re-
THE CURRENCY. 175
sidue, even of the coin and notes^ by twenty or fifty
per cent. Touch the coin and notes, the other and
greater currency shrinks at once, like the sensitive
And no one can tell the proportion in which, when
you curtail the lesser currency, the greater is actually
curtailed ; in some instances it may be in a less pro-
portion, but in many instances a far greater proportion.
The enhancement in value of the greater currency is
proportional, but who can tell or conjecture what the
diminution in quantity is ?
The whole currency of all sorts may not inaptly be
compared to radii diverging from the centre of a circle
to a portion of its circumference. Contract or draw
closer together these radii never so little ; and though,
near the point of convergence, you lessen but insensi-
bly the space they occupy ; yet, at the circumference,
that space is marvellously diminished. Or if the
reader will pardon a more popular illustration : — The
currency is like an expanded fan. Contract the bones
of the handle near the joint but a little, and the ex-
panded gauze, silk or feathers, double up and vanish.
Contract the coin and notes by five millions, and you
may be contracting the greater currency, the suste-
nance of trade and labour, by fifty millions, or more.
It is mere matter of conjecture. Apprehension or
panic, which your measures are sure to create, may
derange all calculations.
In the Autumn of 1847, a diminution in the quan-
176 THE CURRENCY.
tity of the lesser currency actually diminished the
quantity of the greater by much more than a propor-
tionate amount. As in other commodities, so in
money, actual exchangeable value depends not only
on the true, but on the erroneous judgments, or even
feelings, of the public. The predictions of philosophers,
who teach from their closets that these thmgs always
depend on certain general laws, will, in actual experi-
ence, be found strangely wide of the mark.
We see, therefore, how cruel and barbarous must be
the operation of the Act of 1844, on a country with
debts and engagements such as ours.
This is now, unfortunately, no longer matter of pro-
phecy, but of actual experience.
The Act operated for the first time in the autumn
of 1847. And it is not too much to say that such
commercial distress and ruin was never seen in Eng-
land before. How far further it might have proceeded,
if government had not been compelled to announce
their interference, no man can predict.
Nor let it be pretended that the mischief was in the
crisis itself, and not in the law. The first answer is,
that as soon as it was announced that the Act would
be suspended, the mischief abated ; though the Act
never was really suspended at all. If government
had adopted that course earlier, many a merchant-prince
now ruined, w^ould have been saved. Next, the most
opposite authorities agree in attributing the mischief
to the Act of Parliament, and to that alone. Lord
THE CURRENCY. 177
Ashburton declared tliat the importations, large as they
necessarily were, were not more than, under a wiser
management of the currency, the country could have
easily borne. Mr. Mill says, ^' the crisis of 1847 was
of that sort, which the provisions of the Act had not
the smallest tendency to avert, and when the crisis
came, the mercantile difficulties were probably doubled
by its existence.^^ *
And why was the industry of the country subjected
to this horrible torture ? That an adverse balance of
trade might be corrected by the natural flow of the
precious metals. That a theory might be carried out.
In vain did men, grow grey in business, remonstrate
against the measure three years before. It was carried
in contemptuous defiance of their warnings.
Which is best, the old method of prevention or
mitigation, of an adverse balance, or the new measure
of cure ?
We shall see what other measure of cure will be tried
In the meantime we are preparing for a renewal of
the crisis. The imports now greatly and permanently
exceed the exports. A nation that intends to secure
an adverse balance, to be paid at some time or other,
ought to tax its exports, and let its imports come in
free. This is exactly what we now do by our one-sided
free-trade, with this disadvantage : it is not we but
* Principles of Political Economy, Vol. II. p. 21.
178 THE CURRENCY.
the foreigner who taxes our exports when they come as
imports into his country ; instead of taking the tax on
our exports ourselves, we give it to the foreigner. We
take the disadvantage of the adverse balance ; he takes
At present, owing to the troubles that have recently
afflicted Europe, an enormous influx of moveable capital
from all parts of the continent, seeking a secure, but
temporary investment in this country, has at once post-
poned the day of reckoning and accumulated the
arrears. As before, men of experience warn, but the
warning is not only unheeded, but ridiculed. ' If you
will not hear reason,^ says Dr, Franklin, ' she will
surely rap your knuckles.'
Let peace and order be once permanently restored
abroad, let our absentees return to their usual haunts,
and property go back to its usual investments, and the
balance, the tribute, will, ere long be demanded. The
universal distress accompanying the repayment is yet,
and probably at no distant day, to be witnessed.
Nor let us flatter ourselves that the value will neces-
sarily return again of itself, and that we shall sufier no
Few subjects are so intricate as the distribution of
the precious metals among the countries of the world.
Many considerations are overlooked by those who pro-
phecy that the evil will work its own cure. David
Hume says that a progressive increase in the quantity
of the precious metals, and their declining value in any
THE CURRENCY. 179
country, is favourable to a progressive increase of in-
dustry. And no doubt that is so. A stream therefore
of the precious metals poured into a country, produces
effects exactly the converse of the effects which its
dereliction produces in the country which it is leaving.
This fertilizing stream, in the country to which it goes,
stimulates industry, multiplies transactions, creates its
own demand, and counteracts its tendency to return.
Our industry is crippled, our neighbour's is augmented,
we permanently need the bullion less, he permanently
needs it more.
But in the mean time what is already at this moment
going on ?
Money, even in the face of great discoveries of the
precious metals, is rising in value. Property of all
kinds, is declining in money value — in price. Shares
in railways and other undertakings, corn, manufactured
goods and colonial produce, have sunk, or are sinking
in price.* Industry languishes.
Men in trade find their means of payment less. They
The taxes remain the same nominally, but not really.
The fund-holder and every public servant receives every
year more and more. We have financial reformers
anxious to curtail the public expenditure even at the risk
of the public safety. Yet they have so managed mat-
ters, that the tax-eater, receiving the same nominal sum,
* What would they have sunk to, without California ?
J so THE CURRENCY.
really devours almost as much again of the national
substance, as ever he did before.
The funds keep up, for there is little profitable em-
ployment for capital. And the interest which the funds
pay partakes in the augmented value of money.
To confound a low rate of interest with a low value
of money, is a very common mistake. The rate of
interest might remain as low as it is now, if twice the
quantity of gold were put into the sovereign, and the
value of money thereby doubled. For the interest
would in that case, be as much augmented in value as
A low rate of interest is consistent, and often co-
incident, with a high exchangeable value of money, and
a high rate of interest with a low exchangeable value
Thus of late the value of money, measured in other
commodities, has been high. Its purchasing power
has been, and is very great. But the rate of interest
has nevertheless, at the same time been very low.
Good bills are discounted at 2 per cent per annum.
On the other hand, during the war, when the cur-
rency was notoriously depreciated, the value of money
measured in other commodities was very low. Its
purchasing power was then very small. But the rate
of interest was then very high. The discount of the
best bills was 5 per cent, and would have been more
had the law allowed it.
THE CURRENCY. 181
When therefore in the inaccurate language of City-
Articles in Newspapers, we read of the plenty of
money or the low value of money, or that money is
cheap, that merely means that very little can be made
It is quite consistent with this intelligence, that by
a high exchangeable value of money, the price of com-
modities is injuriously depressed, that the profits of
trade are low, and the pressure of the taxes unfairly
augmented. The announcement may betoken or
promise anything but prosperity.*
What are the circumstances on which the rate of
interest depends is a point on which political econo-
mists are not entirely agreed. Most of them however,
co-incide with Adam Smith that it is regulated by the
* Yet it may well be, that a sudden increase of the relative quantity of
money beats down for a time the rate of interest. And that a sudden de-
crease of its relative quantity, raises for a time, the rate of interest. But
these effects will be transient. Eventually the larger relative quantitj-
of money in the first case, will in the aggregate be worth no more ; and
the smaller relative quantity in the second case, will in the aggregate be
worth no less, than the original aggregate quantity of money was before
either alteration. The ultimate and permanent effect will be felt in
prices, not in the rate of interest.
All this assumes that the goodness of credit, public and private, remains
the same. Of course where from any cause credit is affected, another
element enters into the calculation of interest :— viz., the degree of risk.
And not only the real risk, but the apprehended risk. Where the fears
of the public exaggerate the apprehended risk, we say there is a p>amc.
A panic may temporarily raise the rate of interest to any conceivable
amount. A rise in the value of money often increases real risk. A
trader's means of payment may be, and often are, destroyed by unexpected
182 THE CURRENCY.
current rate of profit, — that most will be given for
money, where most can be made of it. Hence though
the value of gold in London and its value in New
York, or Sidney, are at this moment nearly alike, the
rate of interest is higher in New York, and higher still
in Sidney, because the profits of trade are greater in
America than in England, and greater still in Australia.
MANAGEMENT OF PROPERTY. 183
" It is preposterous to interfere with a mans
management of his own property."
That land may be freely bought and sold, the legis-
lature has from time to time passed many statutes of
mortmain. With the same view, the Courts of Law
have abolished all indestructible entails, and have
destroyed perpetuities, by prohibiting settlements of
property which would endure beyond a life or lives in
But such is the imperfection of human affairs, that
one mischief is scarcely eradicated, when another
springs up. A new sort of mortmain has of late pre-
sented itself, in the shape of incumbered estates. An
evil of portentous magnitude, not only impeding the
sale of land, but preventing its cultivation : making
the most important and productive of all labour im-
possible, and smiting large portions of England, and
one half of Ireland, with an artificial, but invincible
Owners of land have, from generation to generation,
been left at liberty to manage, charge and settle their
lands as they thought fit. The law has interfered no
184 MANA.GEMENT OF PROPERTY.
further, than to prevent entails, perpetuities, and
alienation in mortmain. The laisserfaire system has
had full swing. Proprietors have done as they would
with their own. No enlightened and provident legis-
lation has looked forward to the interest of the public.
Nay, there is at this moment nothing to prevent the
proprietor of half a county from indulging his caprice
by ejecting the occupiers, dismissing the inhabitants,
and laying it down as a forest or deer-walk. No
chimerical apprehension : the thing has been done in
Scotland over and over again, and recently, to a very
great and most pernicious extent. This is only a direct
mode of doing that which is accomplished indirectly
and circuitously by allowing the title to an estate to
become such an entangled and trackless wilderness of
charges, judgments, and mortgages, that a sale of any
portion of the land, and the proper cultivation of all
of it, becomes impossible.
The evil is gigantic, and the remedy proportionably
Among others, these suggestions appear to deserve
(1.) No judgment should hereafter bind the land,
except from the time of actual seizure by the sheriff.
(2.) Mortgages and charges of every kind should
be made apportionable without the consent of the in-
At present, if an estate is charged or mortgaged, the
MANAGEMENT OF PROPERTY. 185
whole incumbrance weighs on every acre. No portion
can be sold by paying or securing its fair proportion
of the incumbrance. Cases often happen in which an
owner of incumbered land desires to sell a portion of
his land. It is his interest to sell. It is the interest
of an anxious purchaser to buy. It is, above all, the
interest of the public that the sale should take place.
But the sale cannot now be effected without the con-
sent of the mortgagee or incumbrancer, and very often
he cannot legally consent. An owner should be invested
with the power of selling any portion of his estate, not-
withstanding incumbrances. The fair proportion of
incumbrance chargeable on the part proposed to be
sold, should be subject to a calculation. The amount
of purchase-money for which no valid discharge can be
given, should be paid into the Bank of England, or in-
vested in the funds.* A public officer, practically con-
versant with titles and legal business, should supervise
and approve the transaction. If litigation be neces-
sary, it may take place ; but the purchase-money lying
at interest, and not the land, will be the subject of it.
* The great objection to this is the fluctuating price of consols and
other stocks. But it would be easy to make arrangements, whereby the
public or the Bank should take the purchase money, and repay it without
loss or gain on the principal, and with interest calculated to a day. The
chance of gain is often about equal to the risk of loss. If there be any
difference, the rate of interest might compensate. The public or the
Bank would thus to a small extent open, as it were, an insurance office
on fair terms against decline in the funds. The certainty of receiving not
only the whole principal, but even fractions of interest would be a ver}-
great advantage to persons interested in such investments.
186 MANAGEMENT OF PROPERTY.
The purchaser should then have by Act of Parliament,
a new, clear, indefeasible fee-simple, unassailable by
any objection, except that of fraud.
(3.) Mortgagees and other incumbrancers should
always have a power of sale, and a power to sell por-
tions of an estate.
Mortgages with powers of sale, are of comparatively
recent introduction. And one reason why Irish real
property is more encumbered than English, is, that
mortgages with powers of sale have been more uncom-
mon in Ireland.
(4.) The time of limitation might, with great advan-
tage, be shortened.
A man who is sui juris, and has slept on his claim
for ten years, might safely be barred.
Possibly occasional statutes of limitation might be
passed, with provisions for public notice, that in a yet
shorter period, all claims w^hich have already existed
some years, will, if not enforced, be extinguished.
(5.) There should be a general register of titles,
showing at a glance, every incumbrance on every estate.
England is almost the only civilized country where
such a register does not exist. It would soon * shorten
and simplify searches, abstracts, and conveyances. This
is not the place to discuss the arguments for and
* I fear this word ' soon ' is not correct.
MANAGEMENT OF PROPERTY. 187
Suffice it to say, that the greater part of
the most eminent real-property lawyers approve it,
and their professional skill might safely be relied on
to form a nearly perfect system.
There are other interpositions in the management
of real property, which experience has shewn to be
(1 .) The law ought to interpose in contracts between
landlord and tenant. At present the contract usually
made is for the advantage of neither. But the public
is the greatest sufferer. Much of the imperfect culti-
vation of the land is due to this neglect of public in-
(2.) Non-cultivation, or even improper or imperfect
cultivation should with proper guards and regulations,
be a ground of forfeiture — of escheat to the public.
Ought a millionaire to be at liberty to abolish the
ploughed fields, and pull down the homesteads in
half a county, and convert them into a waste, for his
pleasure or caprice ?
Are all the proceedings in the north of Scotland
consistent with sound national policy ?
Ought an an Irish landlord, like the dog in the man-
ger, to own land of which he can make no use at all,
but on which thousands of his fellow- countrymen might
live and be happy ? At present this is not his own fault.
* See ante.
188 MANAGEMENT OF PROPERTY.
But a state of things might be introduced in Ireland^
which would either correct it, or make its continuance
really his own fault. And then its continuance would
be a ground of forfeiture without injustice.
FREE TRADE FOR IRELAND. 189
'^ Free- trade is good for Ireland."
When the corn-laws were under discussion in 1846^
it was predicted that the withdrawal of protection
would be (as it now clearly is) a blow yet more severe
and fatal to Irish, than to English agriculture.
England had manufactures, shipping, and trade, as
well as agriculture. Ireland had none of these, she
had only agriculture. But then she had the supply
of her own market, of the English market, and, to a
great extent, of the West Indian market also, with
wheat, oats, pigs, bacon, lard, and other provisions.
The time to smite effectually the only industry of
Ireland was well chosen. Irish land was deprived of
protection, at the very crisis when it was, for the first
time and suddenly, burthened with the support of all
the poor of Ireland, by far the most wretched and
numerous in Europe, We were encouraged to hope
that the Irish poor would, some how or other, live
on imported Indian corn ; that a nation, as it has
been well expressed, would be fed on an exotic.
Such are the benefits which free-trade has already
conferred on Ireland's agriculture !
190 FREE TRADE FOR IRELAND.
And lest it should be said that the ill effects resulting
from the sudden adoption of free-trade in agricultural
produce, will disappear in a course of years, it may be
as well to remember that free -trade with England, in
manufactures, has existed a long time.
Let us therefore see what free-trade has done for Ire-
For near half a century, Ireland has had perfectly
free-trade with the richest country in the world. What
has that free-trade done for her ?
She has now no employment for her teeming popu-
lation, except upon the land. She ought to have had,
and might easily have had, other and various employ-
ment, and plenty of it. Are we to believe the calumny
that the Irish are lazy and won't work ? Is Irish
human nature different from other human nature?
Are not the most laborious of all laborers in London
and New York, Irishmen ? Are Irishmen inferior in
understanding ? We Englishmen, who have personally
known Irishmen in the army, at the bar, in the church,
know that there is no better head than a disciplined
Irish one.* But in all these cases, that master of
industry, the stomach, has been well satisfied.
Let an Englishman exchange his bread, and beer,
and beef, and mutton,- — for no breakfast, for a luke-
* " The minds and bodies of the Irish people," says Sir John Davies,
Attorney General to King James Tst, " are endued with extraordinary
abilities of nature."
FREE TRADE FOR IRELAND. 191
warm lumper at dinner, and no supper. With such a
diet, how much is he better than an Irishman ? —a
Celt as he calls him.
No ! the truth is, the misery of Ireland is not from
the human nature that grows there, it is from England's
perverse legislation, past and present.
For a long course of years, Ireland^s manufactures
were systematically discouraged and stifled, while Eng-
land's were, at the same time, protected and cherished.
The Colonies, and even England and Scotland were
protected against Irish manufactures.
"Ireland/' says Dean Swift, writing in 1727, " Ire-
" land is the only kingdom I ever heard or read of,
" either in ancient or modern story, which was denied
" the liberty of exporting their native commodities and
" manufactures wherever they pleased, except to coun-
" tries at war with their own prince or state ; yet this
" privilege, by the superiority of mere power, is refused
" to us in the most momentous parts of commerce."
The masculine common sense of this great writer
bewails in a hundred places the importation of English
manufactures, and the consequent absence of Irish ones,
as the plague and curse of Ireland.
" One cause of a country^s thriving," he says, " is
'' the industry of the people in working up all their
" native commodities to the last."— Another : " The
" conveniency of safe ports and havens to carry out
" their own goods as much manufactured, and bring in
192 FREE TRADE FOR IRELAND.
" those of others as little manufactured * as the na-
" ture of mutual commerce will allow." Another :
" The disposition of the people of the country to ivear
*' their own manufactures, and import as few clothes,
"furniture, food, or drink as they possibly can live
" conveniently ivitho2it."
But he adds : " both sexes in Ireland^ especially the
" women, despise and abhor to wear any of their own
" manufactures, even those which are better made than
" in other countries. I would be glad,'^ says he, "to
" know by what secret method it is, that we are to
" grow a rich and flourishing people. The only trade
*' worth mentioning, is the linen of the north, and
" some butter from Cork." " If," says he, "' we do
"flourish, it must be against every law of nature and
" reason, like the thorn at Glastonbury, which blos-
" soms in the midst of winter.''
All will now at length allow, that the old English
policy of preventing or destroying Irish manufacturing
industry was not only monstrously cruel and unjust,
but highly disadvantageous to England as well as Ire-
land, inflicting as it did on Ireland the curse of invete-
rate pauperism and mendicancy. But the mischief has
been done. It cannot be undone, by merely removing
restrictions on Irish industry. This will only per-
petuate the evil. Trade has always a tendency to run
in the same channel. English manufactures, fostered
* Dean Swift's notions were like those expounded in Chapters
IV. and V.
FREE TRADE FOR IRELAND. 193
by a jealous system of protection, and therefore now
become the first in the world, permeating every Irish
village, where there is a penny to spend, will effectually
choke and smother any infant Irish manufactures.
Misery has produced discontent, insubordination, in-
security. Now, neither Irish nor English manufactur-
ing industry will flourish on Irish ground, without
some temporary, but extraordinary inducement, as a
compensation for the extraordinary and accidental dis-
advantages to which it would be subjected. The des-
truction of Irish industry by the ancient selfish Eng-
lish policy is not only a case for repentance, but for
restitution. Like other sinners, we are very willing
to confess that we have done wrong ; ready even to pro-
mise that we will do so no more. But a proposal for
compensation, a proposal that we should give any Irish
industry, or even any English industry on Irish ground,
a partial and temporary protection and advantage, so
as to place Ireland, as nearly as we can, in the same
state as if she had always been fairly treated, as an
integral part of the empire, — a proposal to make up for
past delinquencies, and really restore industry to its
natural channels — I say such a proposal, just and
natural as it is, would, at present, be received in Eng-
land with shouts of derision.
But, at length, it will be seen that by merely leaving
things alone, although you make Ireland an integral
portion of the British territory, you are but perpetua-
ting the old injustice. She will certainly not make
194 FREE TRADE FOR IRELAND.
her cloths, her silk and cotton goods, her hats, her
leather, her shoes, her ploughs, her spades, her knives,
her steam-engines ; for it is cheaper to buy every one
of them from England ready made. But she has not
the means to buy to any great extent. She will con-
tinue to do as she always has done. She will do
without. She will be ragged and wretched as ever.
But invert your ancient policy. Give the
artificial, but temporary ^ stimulus of moderate protec-
tion even against England to a few branches of Irish
industry. Consider how you created your own man-
ufacturing industry. See how every European king-
dom has done the same. Reflect for a moment that
you are but doing what a native and independent
Irish parliament would be sure to do. Native indus-
try, native manufactures, will, in Ireland, as elsewhere,
be the necessary and certain result.
The protective policy between Ireland and England
need be but partial and temporary. We have seen
that it is a mistake in political economists, when they
assert that capital comes from saving only. A new
field opened to profitable Irish enterprize, Irish capi-
tal will start up in masses. Moreover, English capital,
on Irish ground, employing cheap Irish labour, tempted
and stimulated by a temporary advantage for seven or
ten years in the Irish market, will soon be able to com-
pete in Ireland with English manufactures. Native
Irish industry will strike deep root, and extend widely.
FREE TRADE FOR IRELAND. 195
Security of life and property will follow, or rather,
accompany industry. Noble rivers, unequalled ports
and harbours, large cities, and now, even railways,
and, above all, political tranquillity, invite to this
great act of justice and sound policy.
Such manufactures might be selected, as Ireland
shall, in the judgment of well-informed men, be deemed
The amount of protection to be accorded, need only
be such as will countervail the temptation to employ
industry in England, rather than in Ireland ; as will
compensate any risk, real or imaginary ; as will amount
to a temporary premium of insurance. In short, it
should be as much as would place Ireland, not on a
seeming and pretended level, as now, but on a true
and actual level with England. It should be no more
than is absolutely necessary for this just purpose, and
last no longer than the necessity continues ; which
time would be very short. ^
In the course of a few years, during which our
weaker sister shall have received this temporary assis-
tance, custom-house barriers (as between the two
nations) may be again thrown down, and then, and not
till then, will there be, not a nominal, but a real union,
of two nations, standing on really equal ground, emu-
lating and assisting one another ; both equally indus-
trious, prosperous, and powerful. Then, and not till
then, will the union be as intimate and inviolable, as
between England and Scotland.
J 96 FREE TRADE FOR IRELAND.
England^s gain in the result cannot be calculated.
But she will be no loser even in the process. The
wealth that native manufactures will at once pour into
Ireland's lap will not be abstracted from England,
but created in Ireland. So far from being a worse
customer to England, for those articles to which the
protection shall not extend, she will be a better, even
during the interval of protection. Now she cannot
buy, — then she will be able. Now she is in the receipt
of alms, then she will have the means of earning her
bread. I speak of the commercial policy, the mere
sordid and immediate pecuniary advantage of such a
course. But there are nobler and more generous mo-
tives which will actuate Englishmen, if they can be dis-
enchanted of their theories, and brought to see that
such a policy would be really beneficial to Ireland.
It is true, this policy is the very opposite of any
that has yet been tried. Yes, and it will have effects
the very o^osite of any that have yet been produced.
Our late and present policy have produced, and are
producing, poverty, misery, discontent, disaffection ;
the opposite policy will produce wealth, comfort, gra-
titude, and loyalty.
There is no novelty or strangeness, in this sugges-
tion of partial and temporary protection of infant Irish
manufactures even against England. Enlightened and
impartial foreigners have made it before. For example,
the Baron Dupin, in France, and Mr. Webster in the
FREE TRADE FOR IRELAND. 197
United States of America, have given it as their opinion,
that little good is to be expected without it, from any
course of British legislation for Ireland.
Nay, we have more than theory or authority to
guide us. We have in the past history of Ireland her-
self, actual experience both of the advantage of protect-
ing Irish manufactures against English, and of the
ruin attending the withdrawal of protection.
Before the Union Irish protecting duties existed on
many English manufactures. Among others there was
a duty on English woollens. A duty on English cali-
coes and muslins so high as to be nearly prohibitory.
A duty on English silk. There were duties on English
cotton yarn, cotton twist, and cotton manufactured
The Act of Union continued the duties on woollens
and several other articles for twenty years. It con-
tinued the high duties on calicoes and muslins till
1808. They were then to be gradually reduced till
they should fall to 10 per cent in 1816 and to nothing
in 18^1. The duties on cotton yarn, and cotton twist,
were continued till 1808, and were then to be gradu-
ally reduced to nothing in 1816. The linen trade was
encouraged by a parliamentary grant withdrawn in 1826.
Now see the effects, first, of protection, and next,
of its withdrawal, or rather a specimen of the effects.*
* It has been stated by Dublin Tradesmen, acquainted with the facts
thatinl800, they had 91 Master Woollen Manufacturers, employing 4918
hands. In 1840, the Master Manufacturers were 12, the hands 602.
198 FREE TRADE FOR IRELAND.
Before the Union there were under protection, Irish
woollen manufactures, Irish carpet manufactures, Irish
Master Woolcombers in 1800, were 30 — the hands 230. In 1834,
Masters 5— hands 66.
Carpet Manufacturers — In 1800, Masters 13 — hands 720.— In 1841,
Masters 1 — hands.
Blanket Manufacturers in Kilkenny. — In 1800, Masters 56 — hands,
3000. In 1822, Masters 42— hands 925.
Broad silk loom weavers in Dublin in 1800. — At work 2500 ; in 1840
Calico looms in Balbriggan in 1799 in full work, 2000. In 1841—226.
Flannel looms in the County of Wicklow, in 1800—1000. In 1841
In the City of Cork.
Braid weavers . .
. . 1000
Worsted weavers .
. . 2000
. . 300
Wool-combers . .
. . 700
Cotton weavers . .
. . 2000
Linen check weavers
. . 600
spinners — bleachers -
- calico printers -
The linen trade protected and fostered till 1826, was not in those days
confined to the North of Ireland. In Cionakittj--, in the County of Cork,
£1200 a week was expended on the purchase of coarse linen webs, so late
as 1825. In Mayo, £111,000 were expended in purchasing the same
species of web. In 1825 the sum of two millions and a half sterling, were
expended in Ireland in the purchase of coarse unbleached home-made
I am obliged for these specimens of the ruin of Irish industry to Mr.
Butt, Q.C. at the Irish Bar, who informs me that they could be very much
FREE TRRDE FOR IRELAND. 199
blanket manufactures, Irish silk manufactures, Irish
calico manufactures, Irish flannel manufactures, and
Irish stocking manufactures. These manufactures are
now smothered and extinct.
But what ought they to have been ? with increased
population and power of consumption, with the appli-
cation of steam, with improved mechanical and chemi-
cal agencies ! What would, and must they have been,
but for the blight of English competition ! withering
at once both the power of producing, and the means of
purchasing! What might they be made even now,
should England, instead of blindly chasing the phantom
of cheapness, no matter of what sort, at once and
seriously address herself to developing the unexplored
but prodigious productive power of Ireland.
But England is, at present, spell-bound and para-
lyzed by her epidemic, yet ephemeral theories. Unless
it be in conformity with her new doctrines, she will
not listen to the most obvious measure of true policy
for Ireland. She will support an artificial system to
maintain ."myriads of Irish poor in idleness, but will
not hear of an artificial system to marry them to
industry. " Buy,^^ says she, with bitter irony, to the
penniless Irish, " buy in the cheapest market. Don't
make for yourselves, when you can buy of me cheaper
than you can make." Accordingly, the Irish do, as all
nations so situated needs must do, they go without.
Innumerable Irish hands, ready to labor — immeasur-
200 FREE TRADE FOR IRELAND.
able quantities of Irish materials ready to be wrought
up, — innumerable consumers, too anxious to consume,
and to produce in return, are, as if by enchantment,
kept asunder. Without temporary protection, Irish
industry is undersold, smothered, rendered impossible.
Universal, hereditary, and national idleness, poverty,
and discontent, are the necessary consequences.
Who, again we ask, is to blame ?
England and nobody else. Though it must be ad-
mitted that the theories which blind her to true Irish
interests, have blinded her quite as much to her own.
THEORY OF POPULATION. 201
" Higher wages will hut increase population."
The fashionable political economy has many pleasing
theories : it is distressing to see them fall either be-
fore a rigorous analysis, or before the yet more con-
vincing logic of experiment.
But then by way of set-off, political economy has
one theory very dark and gloomy * indeed. We are
told, that to augment the comfortable subsistence of
mankind, is but to increase their numbers, — to create
ultimately only a larger collection of wretched families,
who are to succumb at length to vice and misery, the
appointed checks of population.
Twenty years ago the doctrine of the anti-popula-
tionists reigned supreme. A great law of nature had
been discovered. Rich unbelievers in Malthus were
assailed with ridicule and contemptuous pity : f — per-
secution, it is true, was reserved for poor and practical
But of late, this specious, but disheartening theory,
* Mr. Carlyle calls it " The Dismal Science."
t Obvious mistakes had been discovered— the world had not been
made big enough. There was danger of want of standing room.
has been mucli more closely examined. Old facts have
been more carefully sifted, and new facts have afforded
a wide field for induction.
The opinion of sceptics in political economy, will of
course weigh little. Let us therefore see what orthodox
believers in political economy, and eminent professors
of the science, now say.
And Mr. M'Culloch shall speak.
" The principle of increase," says he, " as explained
" by Mr. Malthus, and more recently by Dr. Chalmers,
" appeared to form an insuperable obstacle to all per-
" manent improvement in the condition of society,
" and to condemn the great majority of the human
" race to a state approaching to destitution.
" But further inquiries have shewn that the infer-
" ences drawn by the authorities now referred to, are
" contradicted by the widest experience.
" That the too rapid increase of population is
" almost always prevented by the influence of prin-
" ciples which its increase brings into activity.
" That a vast improvement has taken place in the
" condition of the people of every country, particu-
" larly of those in which population has increased
" with the greatest rapidity.
" And that so far from being inimical to improve-
" ment, we are really indebted to the principle of in-
" crease, for most part of our comforts and enjoyments,
" and for the continued progress of arts and industry.^'*
* Principles of Political Economy, Preface, p. xiv.
So that according to this great authority, Mr. Mal-
thus's inferences are now contradicted by the widest
Good men felt all along, that there must be some-
thing unsound in a theory which would extinguish
benevolent and philantrophic exertion. It now appears
they were I'ight.
" The heart is wiser than the schools.''
When therefore we are distressed to see the pleasant
theories of political economy gradually dissolve, and
new views take their place, it is a consolation that the
gloomiest picture is as evanescent as the sunniest.
The two following propositions constitute the theory
of the anti-populationists, not long ago triumphant,
but lately fallen into distrust and discredit.
First, that the increase of mankind proceeding in a
geometrical progression, while the increase of the means
of subsistence advances only in an arithmetical pro-
gression, population increases faster than subsistence.
Secondly, that the price of labour, when left to find
its natural level, is, to use the words of Mr. Malthus,
" a most important political barometer, expressing
clearly the wants of the society respecting population/'
In other words, that the increase of a population will
be in proportion to its comfortable circumstances.
But it is now difficult to reconcile the first position
with well-known facts.
204 THEORY OF
Mr Malthus published the first edition of his book
in 1798. Since that period, (or if you please, since
the conquest,) which has augmented most, population,
or the means of subsistence ? Which have done most,
— the mouths that have come into the world, in di-
minishing food, or the hands that have come with them,
in augmenting the means of producing it ?
Protectionists tell us, that in the article of food
alone, our means of producing, even within the narrow
boundary of the British islands, are yet unlimited.
There are many millions of uncultivated acres, of fer-
tility till lately unsuspected. The resources of drainage
and improved cultivation are but beginning to be
opened up. Agricultural chemistry is in its infancy.
The elements of fertility have but just begun to be
scientifically understood. You have yet to spread the
manure and sewerage of your cities on the soil. You
have yet to witness the boundless gratitude of your
mother earth, when you plant her now starving and
naked children on the waste. They point to your
colonies in both hemispheres, where the precious grain
of the Anglo-Saxon race is sown and germinating.
There you have, not petty territories, like France or
Spain, but vast continents preparing to receive your
productions, to pour back in return their food and
other natural riches, and if need be, to receive more
people than you can send. They add that steam has,
since, the days of Malthus, laid these colonies of yours
with their boundless fields, alongside your coasts.
The free-traders on their part, bid you look to the
valley of the Mississippi, able to supply all Europe
with food. They tell you that you could, and ought,
to draw your supplies from that and many other inex-
haustible foreign sources.
We have not now to discuss which of these two
counsel the true policy. But both protectionists and
free-traders agree in this, that since the days of
Mai thus, however the population may have augmented,
the means of producing and acquiring food have been
augmented not only in an equal, but in an infinitely
Now look at all other material things besides food.
The difficulty is not to produce, but the difficulty seems
now to be, not to over-produce. Steam, and mechan-
ical powers, with chemical agencies, have laid the
riches of all nature at our feet in inexhaustible profu-
The means of subsistence therefore have not been
wanting to population. There was in 1798, no real
danger of too great an increase of men and women.
Providence had gifts in store, not suspected by those
who distrusted its prescience and bounty.
Indeed it has been truly observed by Paley and by
M. Thiers, that there never yet has been a nation
which even fully cultivated its own soil ; and if we
are to judge of the future by the past, there never
But how often has population been wanting to the
206 THEORY OF
means of subsistence ! Where are the dense popula-
tions that anciently lined the banks of the Nile, the
Indus, the Tigris, and the Euphrates? The fertile
land remains in Asia Minor, Arabia, Syria, Egypt,
Persia, and Northern India, but the huge cities and
the myriads of human creatures with which, under
their ancient monarchies, they once swarmed, are gone !
But the second position, that the rate of wages
governs the rate of increase, and that the increase of a
population is therefore always in proportion to its com-
fortable circumstances, is quite as irreconciliable with
Comfort, and a station in life, we find beget prudence.
Poverty produces recklessness. The middle and upper
classes do not breed like the lowest. Few populations
have ever multiplied like the most wretched Irish.
There is nothing therefore in a true theory of popu-
lation to scare either governments or benevolent indi-
viduals from persevering endeavours to better the con-
dition, and raise the remuneration of the lowest class.
On the contrary there is everything to encourage such
philanthropical endeavours. It is the truest, soundest
In the wynds of Glasgow, and cellars of Liverpool,
population multiplies as fast as any where else. And
what a population ! The moral degradation, deep as
it is, is not deeper than the physical deterioration of
the fathers and mothers of the coming race.
. . . . nequiores mox daturos
We have thought it worth while to improve the breed
of oxen, sheep, and pigs. Our sleek and comely animals
seem another race from the lean and long-legged crea-
tures of France. But there is reason to fear that the
reverse operation as to human creatures, is proceeding
in the great cities of both countries. Compare the
swarms of fragile women, of slight, delicate, and half-
begotten men in London, Paris, Lyons and Manchester,
with the men and women now living in the country
districts of Normandy, and frequenting the markets of
Dieppe or Caen, and you will see what is going on.
There is no reason to fear an increase of population.
But there is great reason to fear the increase of a
population morally depraved, and physically deterio-
208 THEORY OF RENT.
" Beware of having recourse to inferior soils."
If the domestic production of food could but be made
to keep pace with other industry, why should any
increase of population be excessive ?
A parish, we will suppose, contains one farmer, one
miller, one baker, one butcher, one carpenter, one
blacksmith, one doctor, one lawyer, one draper and
grocer, and so on of other trades, and a certain number
of laborers in each occupation.
Now if the population be doubled, and there be two
of a trade all round, and two laborers where there' was
formerly but one, the proportion being undisturbed,
there is no more excess of population than there was
before. Each new comer adds, it is true, a new pair
of hands to do the work, but then he also brings with
him a new proportionate demand for the work of every
body else. Every body is as busy as before.
But here comes the difficulty ; — you can easily have
two millers, and two bakers, and two of every trade
and occupation except one. But how can you get
two farmers ? Where are the new farms to be had ?
Here we see at once the difficulty in which old and
THEORY OF RENT. 209
advanced communities are apt to find themselves. We
see one reason, among many more, why it has been so
often said and repeated, that agriculture is the first of
arts ; — why agriculture merits the chief attention of
every wise and foreseeing government.
Four expedients present themselves.
(1.) Taking more land into cultivation.
(3.) Improving the cultivation of that which is
(3.) Importing food from abroad.
(4.) Diminishing the demand for food, by exporting
If land were as inexhaustible as air, or water, or
light, or steam, or mechanical or chemical agencies,
the difficulty would always be at once solved by adopt-
ing the first and most obvious expedient. " But land,''
says Professor Tucker of Virginia, " is a machine which
but a few possess, but whose produce none can dis-
And so it may with truth be said, that improved
cultivation of land already cultivated, is an augmented
efficiency of the old machines.
But in our uncultivated lands in Great Britain and
Ireland, we yet have new machines in great abun-
dance and potential efficiency. In our Colonies these
new machines are innumerable and almost untried.
210 THEORY OF RENT.
In improved methods of cultivation, and improved and
more plentiful manures, we have the means of indefi-
nitely increasing the power of the machines already in
use at home.
Our most obvious resource, therefore, should still
seem to be the two first expedients, — cultivating more
land at home and in the Colonies, and cultivating it
better. According to the principles already explained,
it is to the British Empire twice as advantageous to
grow in the British Empire as to import from abroad,
and creates twice as great a market * for all other
British mdustry, even where there is perfect recipro-
city in our dealings with foreign nations. In the one
case, you keep your farmers and their industry at
home ; in the other, you send them and their industry
abroad, and make them parcel of a foreign nation.
But then, it is said, in the case of food, another
element enters into the calculation — rent. It is as-
serted that the lands first cultivated, are always the
best lands. It is added, that by having recourse for
further supplies to other soils, which must be inferior,
or to better cultivation of old soils, you always in
both cases cultivate at much greater expense, in pro-
portion to the produce, and necessarily raise the price
of the last quantity you require. That last quantity,
however small, governs the price of all the rest, and
so the price of food is raised throughout the country,
and rents are everywhere augmented, the best land
paying the highest rent.
* See Chapters IV. and V.
THEORY OF RENT. 211
This is Mr. Ricardo's theory of rent, * which
opposes a bar to solid improvement, by suggesting
theoretical objections to the extended and improved
cultivation of our own soil. Its paradoxical caution is,
do not cultivate your own soil too well, for fear of
making food dear and unattainable by the bulk of the
people.f But, like Mr. Malthus's theory of popula-
tion, the theory of rent has of late been much more
carefully examined. It turns out to be built on some
untenable hypotheses. It is accordingly by some
political economists much modified, and by others
regarded as more specious than true, and rejected
* It is believed this theory of rant was first suggested by Dr. James
Anderson, in 1801. It was afterwards more fully developed in an Essay
by Mr. West, a gentleman at the bar, afterwards Sir Edward West,
Chief Justice of Bombay, and about the same time by Mr. Malthus.
But the clearest and simplest expositions of it, are to be found in the works
of Mr. Ricardo, and of the elder Mr. Mill. Those who desire to see it
satisfactorily disposed it, are referred to " An Essay on the distribution of
wealth, by the Rev. Richard Jones, A.M." It is much to be regretted,
that this most able writer has not yet communicated to the public his
views on the theory of wages and profits.
f And it is intimately connected with his theory of profit. But Mr.
Ricardo's theory of profit, though very subtle and ingenious, never en-
joyed much currency, and therefore we need not waste time in examining
it. It is a singular example of the force of theory, compelling one of the
acutest of men to ignore the best-established facts. Well did Lord
Brougham say of Mr. Ricardo, that he seemed as if he had dropped from
J See " Laws of wages, profits, and rent investigated," by Professor
Tucker, Philadelphia, 1837; and "An Essay on the distribution of
Wealth," by the Rev. Richard Jones, A.M. « The Past, Present, and
Future," by Mr. Carey, of Philadelphia.
212 THEORY OF RENT.
The hypotheses on which this theory is built, are
probably untenable in any country ; they are certainly
so when applied to the British Empire.
The very first proposition is not true, viz., that the
lands first cultivated are always the best lands.
It would be singular if it were true. The first set-
tlers of any country have little topographical knowledge,
poor means of locomotion, (even if roads existed,) and
very limited power of draining or clearing the really
fat and ultimately most productive lands.
In Great Britain, the soils first cultivated were not
those that are now the most fertile. In England, the
most fertile of all lands are some of the fens. They
have only begun to produce wheat extensively within
living memory. There is every reason to believe that
there are still bogs and morasses in Ireland, that will
be yet more fertile than even the fattest English fens.
These Irish lands are now undrained, and utterly un-
productive ; though railways are near, and an active
and hungry population all around.
Take North America. The pilgrim fathers first
cultivated what first presented itself, — the barren soil
of Massachusets. Their Colonies at Plymouth, New-
port, and New Haven, were on high, but comparatively
sterile land. So in the vicinity of New York, the
Islaad of New York, the shore of New Jersey, and the
higher part of Long Island, were first tilled. In all
these cases, the lower and infinitely fatter soils were
THEORY OF RENT. 213
France, Holland, Flanders, Italy, Egypt, and many
other countries also, present phenomena at irrecon-
ciliable variance with the very first hypothesis, on
which the theory of rent reposes. So much so, that
some political economists have lately maintained, that
if you will condescend to be instructed by facts, infe-
rior soils are always brought into cultivation before
Take the next position, viz., that by having recourse
for further supplies, to other soils which must be infe-
rior, or to better cultivation of old soils, you must
cultivate at greater expense in proportion to the pro-
duce, and so necessarily raise the price of food.
Take first the recourse to other soils. We have
seen, that in many countries at least, there are other
soils, which so far from being necessarily inferior, are
often very superior to the soils first cultivated.
It is not even true, in the British Empire, that
increasing the quantity of food, by resorting to other
British soils yet uncultivated, will necessarily make
In the first place, it is not true that all the soils yet
remaining uncultivated at home will necessarily be in-
ferior to many that are cultivated already. Many soils
which experienced agriculturists declare will ultimately
and certainly turn out very good and productive soils,
* See " The past, the present, and the future ; " by Mr. Carey
of Philadelphia, the author of " Principles of Political Economy," &c.
214 THEORY OF RENT.
have not yet been brought into cultivation at all, even
in Great Britain and Ireland.
jMany others, that had till very lately been deemed
unproductive soils, have in fact turned out most pro-
ductive. Witness the experiments on Chat-moss.
Taking experience and analogy for our guide, this
will probably be the case with many more.
Railways, by increasing the proximity of lands to
markets, and of labour and manure to lands, have
changed and augmented the real value of millions of
acres yet uncultivated, or nearly so.
British soils of inexhaustible fertility in the Colonies
and dependencies are yet virgin soils.
So much for the first branch of the second hypothe-
sis, that soils not yet cultivated must be inferior soils.
Nor is it in practice true, that increased capital and
labour laid out on old soils, always yields progressively
diminished returns. So far is it from being the truth
(as had been hastily assumed,) that, on the contrary,
many of the last doses of capital (to use Mr. Mill's
expression) applied to land, have yielded more ample
returns than any previous doses. What wonderful
increase of fertility has been produced by drainage
alone ! What unexpected and prodigious results have
followed the spreading of the sub-soil on our fen lands.
A day's labour on what w^ere the sandy wastes of
Flanders produces five times what a day's labour would
have done centuries ago. What are we to expect when
THEORY OF RENT. 215
an enlightened policy shall have spread the sewerage
of our cities on our soils ! '^ Or what is infinitely
better, have planted on the soils the poor that pro-
duce it. For the human animal is a fertilizing as well
as a consuming creature. The highest and best of all
farming is maintained by many to be, the cultivation
of his own small property by the hands of the peasant
and his family. The quantity of all kinds of produce
is certainly prodigious. But this sort of high-farming
is cheap as well as productive. In the British islands
alone, you might thus raise any additional quantity of
food you are likely to require, and at a very cheap rate.
There are no wages to pay, and no rent.
It is not therefore true that by expending more
labour or capital on old soils you will necessarily cul-
tivate at a greater expence^ or raise the price of food.
Mr. Eicardo^s theory of rent, therefore, is built on
some untenable hypotheses. Without fatiguing the
patience of the reader by a further examination of a
very difficult question, it may be truly said of the
theory of rent, that it is at least no practical guide
for the legislation of this great country.
* And since Mr. Ricardo's time, that great bar to improvement, tithes
whicli enabled the tithe-owner to take a tenth of the gross prodtice of
improvements, have been commuted and abolished. The Church has
made a great sacrifice. Her wealth is no longer to advance with advan-
cing agriculture. She is stereo-typed. But then in return, she has a
permanent, certain, and much less invidious income, with the best security
in the world.
THEORY OF RENT.
There seems, therefore, to be no more reason why
you should not use your British soils for producing
food, in preference to foreign soils, than why you should
not use your British machines at home for producing
manufactures, in preference to foreign machines abroad.
But the consequences deduced from the theory, are
as fallacious as the theory itself.
Suppose the theory, instead of being practically false,
were practically true. It would still not follow that
even in a mere pecuniary point of view it would not be
more profitable to cultivate English soil of inferior
fertility, than to depend on a foreign soil of superior
On the one hand, by supplying a deficiency from
abroad, you lose the entire value of what you import
from abroad, and might have grown either at home, or
in the Colonies, and, you moreover lose markets to
On the other hand, by growing at home, and so
supplying the deficiency at a somewhat dearer rate, you
augment, to some extent, (if Mr. Bicardo's theory of
rent were true,) all rent, and cause, to that extent, a
vicious distribution of wealth.
-According, then, even to this theory, if it were true,
you would gain in value, by growing at home, but you
would cause some improper distribution of it.
But the theory is not true.
* See Chapters IV. and V.
THEORY OF RENT. 217
You will not only gain enormously in value in pro-
ducing, as much as possible, at home and in the colonies;
but instead of a worse distribution, you will ensure a
much better distribution.
You will have, as means for supporting your own
poor, an additional annual fund equivalent to the
whole gross value of what you produce in the empire,
instead of producing it in foreign lands.
You will always have more real plenty, and accessi-
bility of food, and perhaps in the long run, a degree
even of cheapness, as great, or greater. You will have
developed the best producing forces of the country.
These two questions, first, whether it be true that
to produce at home, rather than abroad, is more profi-
table by the whole gross value of the product ; * and
secondly, whether Mr. Ricardo's theory of rent be
practically true or false, are questions not merely theo-
retical and metaphysical. They are questions of
stupendous practical moment. Applied to the food of
the people, they involve gains or losses to the nation,
not of milhons, but of tens and scores of millions an-
nually. Applied to the fund for employing the popu-
lation by paying wages, they involve, wages or no
wages, industry or idleness, to the same amount.
We who have lately heard the discussions on the
corn laws usque ad nauseam, need not be reminded of
the many other arguments besides mere pecuniary
* See Chapters IV. and V.
218 THEORY OF RENT.
ones, urging us to cultivate as much as possible, our
own English, Irish, and Colonial soils, both in the
temperate and tropical regions. The healthful in-
dustry, the virtue and contentment of the people, the
stability of government, the independence and lasting
security of the empire, and a supply, permanent, cheap,
and inexhaustible, not only of food, but of cotton and
sugar, are deeply involved in the question.
There yet remains to be considered, the fourth
expedient by which old societies may escape from the
want of food, and that is, by exporting the population.
As we have lately exported our English and Irish
bone and muscle, not to our own colonies, but to the
United States : a first-rate, and probably, hereafter, a
To cure the want of food by exporting the people,
is (to use Dean Swift's simile) like lopping off your
feet when you want shoes.
The notion, therefore, that extended and improved
cultivation of our own soil will unduly augment rents
and make food inaccessible to the multitude, is as
false as it is paradoxical — a mere bugbear, scaring
our statesmen from the most obvious policy.
On the contrary, the true political economy will
spread and plant the population, not only on the dry
and level soil, but all over mountains and morasses.
True pubhc wisdom will venerate and cherish the
THEORY OF RENT. 219
natural and indissoluble relationship between man and
his mother earth. This filial piety, is here also, the
first commandment with promise : the days of the
empire that violates it are numbered.
The fear lest there should be too many people in
the British Empire, is, as we have seen, of all fears
the most preposterous.
" DonH undertake to employ the aUe-hodied jpauper
So say the strictest sect — the Pharisees of Political
" Set the poor to work,^' says the statute of Eliza-
But the political economists have been some time
in power, and what have we seen in England and Ire-
In both countries have been erected buildings impro-
perly denominated workhouses, but which have been
more properly called coops, in which the able-bodied
and necessitous poor are, on principle, imprisoned and
The public must, and do maintain the able-bodied
pauper, but refuse to employ him actively and produc-
tively. The public is in the situation of a man who
should be bound to pay wages to 1,000 labourers,
whether they work or not. Every thing which these
labourers could produce would, under the circum-
stances, be a saving of loss ; that is, a pure gain to
him. But because he calculates that they cannot earn
the whole of their wages, he refuses to allow them to
In the meantime, the numbers of unemployed poor,
and the annual value they unproductively consume,
fearfully augment. There stand the idle, starving,
uneducated paupers, amidst wealth more than fabulous,
^' an exceeding great army.^^
A depression of manufacturing or agricultural in-
dustry fills their ranks, and exasperates their discontent.
The unemployed poor have already pulled down govern-
ment and threatened to destroy property in France, and
the danger is not less real here, nor possibly so remote
as we may flatter ourselves. Modern civilization is not,
like ancient civilization, in peril from Northern Barba-
rians, but from Barbarians already swarming within its
borders, scarcely as yet conscious of their physical power.
"A persuasion," says Mr. Carlyle, ^^is rapidly spread-
" ing, that pauperism absolutely must be dealt with
" in some more conclusive way." " It must he donej
'' whether before we have ^ red republic,^ and uni-
" versal social dissolution, or after it. That is now
" the practical question, and one of the most important
" the English nation 'ever had before it. To see such
^^ a problem fairly in any form begun, would be an
" unspeakable relief ; like the first emergence of solid
" land again, amid these universal deluges of revolu-
" tion and delirium." *
* We are tempted to extract the whole passage. It is to be found in
a letter cited in Mr. Symons' Tactics for the Times, p. 179.
Yet what this original and thoughtful writer pro-
poses, is after all, in substance, nothing more than the
remedy already proposed by the statute" of Elizabeth.
That the power which relieves should employ, — should
give relief in exchange for systematic hard work, for
really iiseful and disciplined labour.
This scheme, though it has been abandoned in defer-
" A persuasion is rapidly spreading that pauperism absolutely must be
dealt with, in some more conclusive way, before long ; and the general
outlook is towards waste lands and colonies for that object.
" Concurring heartily in these two propositions, both the general and
the particular, my own sad conviction is, that before either paupers can
be ' dealt with,' or waste lands and colonies got to turn out other than
infatuations and futilities for them, government must do the most original
thing proposed to it in these times, — admit that paupers are really slaves,
men fallen into (izsfranchisement, who cannot keep themselves ' free,' and
whom it is bitter mockery and miserable folly and cruelty to treat as
what they are 7iot, and accordingly must take the commajid of said paupers
applying for the means of existence ; and enlist them, and have industrial
'colonels' and ' regiments,' first one, and then ever more ; and lead, and
order and compel them, under law as just as Rhadamanthus, and as stern
too ; — and on the whole must prosecute this business, as the vitalist of all,
and develope it evermore, year after year, and age after age ; and under-
stand any where that its industrial horseguards, and not its red-coated
fighting one, is to be the grand institution of institutions for the time
coming ! What mountains of impediment, what blank, weltering, abom-
inable oceans of unveracity of every kind, the complete achievement of
this problem (in the gradual course of centuries) now supposes the anni-
hilation of — all this, alas, is too clear to me. But all this, as 1 compute,
must actually be done ; whether before we have ' red republic,' and uni-
versal social dissolution, or after it, — that is now the practical question,
and one of the most important the English nation ever had before it. To
see such a problem fairl}- in any form begun, would be an unspeakable
relief; like the first emergence of solid land again, amid these universal
deluges of revolution and delirium.
ence to theorists, must be resumed.* It has been jus-
tified by experience. It is now more than ever needed.
It is no more than ever practicable, profitable, and
It is practicable and profitable.
Practicable and profitable even in the immediate neigh-
bourhood of the workhouses or parishes themselves.
Some miserably-managed parish farms have been
set up as bugbears to scare from the attempt. But
cultivation of poor land by parish and union paupers,
has lately been tried with splendid success. Hard
ditching is found as good a test of destitution as
The able-bodied paupers of the Chorlton Union,
reclaimed a farm on Chat-Moss. The poor law autho-
rities themselves admit, that the scheme succeeded.
The poor were not only usefully, but profitably em-
ployed, and it proved an excellent test of destitution.
A similar experiment, with similar success, has lately
been tried in the neighbourhood of Sheffield.
At Farnley Tyas, near Huddersfield, the able-bodied
paupers have been set to reclaim moorland. We are
informed that after several years, they had gained ten
per cent., and had their relief-fund entire.
Nor is it in England alone that such experiments
have been tried saad found to answer.
* " The further," says Blackstone, " the further any subsequent plans
for maintaining the poor have departed from it, the more impracticable
and pernicious these attempts have proved."
The productive employment of the poor in some
Irish work-houses, (especially in Cork,) has at length
been introduced, after previous failure, with eminent
In Belgium and Holland, large amounts are earned
by the labor of paupers systematically employed.
In Denmark, relief is considered a loan, and the
able-bodied pauper is required to work it out.
In Mecklenburgh, the law provides food and lodg-
ing, but exacts in return productive labor.
In Prussia, the paupers are made in great measure
to support themselves.
The same system prevails in Bavaria, in Saxony, in
Wurtemburg, in Sweden, and in the Hanseatic towns.
Such employment is practicable and profitable every
where. What really deters from it is a lurking per-
suasion, that it is against principle. We will look
at the objections presently.
But it would be taking a very narrow view of the
opportunities of fully and productively employing a
surplus population, to suppose that it can only be done
in this small, and as it were, retail way.
Parishes and Unions may combine and employ their
poor in a yet more effectual and useful manner. And
government may superintend and direct the combina-
tion to ends of vital and enduring benefit.
There are immense enterprizes, highly and undoubt-
edly beneficial to the public, which it would be most
lucrative for the public to undertake, with laborers
whom it must pay, and does pay^ whether it employ
them or not. These enterprizes, left to individuals
or companies, may never be undertaken, because some
of them would not be profitable, unless he that
undertakes them, like the public, already have the labor
for nothing, or, which is to the same thing, be bound to
pay for it whether employed or not ; or because the
ultimate profit of others, though possible even to indi-
viduals, who must purchase labor, is yet doubtful.
Not to deal in general observations, but to come to
particular instances, — look at the drainage of large
TOWNS. The accumulated filth now corrupts the air,
weakens the constitution^ deteriorates the race of
human creatures, poisons any neighbouring river, and
so cuts off a natural and abundant supply of pure
To carry off the poison permanently and effectually,
to restore the supply of water, to convert the refuse,
both liquid and solid, into the most valuable and effi-
cacious of manures, fertilizing not only surrounding
districts, but capable of being carried by railways to
the ends of the kingdom, and so indefinitely increas-
ing the supply of home-grown food — to do all this —
requires nothing more than the labour of those who
now sit in the neighbouring workhouses looking at
their feet. Such gigantic enterprizes, may or may
not answer to individuals. They are certain to answer
to the public. The public have the labor for nothing ;
that is to say, it costs them no more than if they did
not employ it.
It is not in the metropolis only, but in Edinburgh,
Glasgow, Dublin, Manchester, Liverpool, Norwich,
Bristol, Birmingham, Sheffield, Plymouth, that these
fields of employment are now open. Not only in the
great towns, but in almost every country-town and
market-town in the kingdom. Railways have at once
made the supply of this gratuitous and most beneficial
labour, and the diffusion and sale of its invaluable pro-
duce, perfectly easy and certain every where.
And this labour, amongst many other recommenda-
tions, is most beneficial, for this reason, that it tends
to redress the most dangerous of mischiefs, the most
fatal of wants, a deficiency of home-grown food. So
far from creating pauperism, it tends to destroy it.
Such labour is as beneficial, as if it augmented the
surface of the kingdom.
Take another instance. Walk along New Oxford-
street, and admire if you please the palaces which now
replace the innumerable meaner dwellings of the poor,
formerly covering the ground. But your satisfaction
will abate, when you reflect that the former poor occu-
piers are now more crowded and squalid than ever. No
provident government forbade this London clearance,
or made it conditional on the provision of suitable
dwellings for the poor elsewhere. The erection of such
suitable dwellings on a large scale, like the Model
Lodging-houses, with ample supplies of gas and water
— the erection of baths and wash-houses — might not be
profitable to individuals, but gratuitous labour could not
be unprofitably so employed in any sense of the word.
Arterial drainage, ports, harbours of refuge, and a
thousand other useful public works of various sorts,
afford a further boundless field for employment.
If necessary, the poor might be further employed in
digging or cutting the stone or making the bricks.
They displace no stone-cutters or brick-makers.
All this is yet more practical and profitable than
ever, for railways have mobilized our poor.
Now what are the objections ?
• That such a scheme might stimulate population, and
multiply unduly the competitors for employment.
Those who are tormented with fears on this head,
are referred to the remarks on that subject already
It cannot be objected that there are no funds. The
funds already exist. All that is proposed is to substi-
tute the industry for the idleness of the recipients.
Less money, not more, will be spent.
Perhaps it will be said that labour naturally em-
ployed will be injured or displaced. Not in the least.
No product of pauper-labour need ever make its
appearance in the market. All the work which will
* See Chapter on Population.
be thus done, is work which otherwise would not he
done at all. So far from displacing labour, a great
demand for otber labour will in many ways be neces-
sarily created. It is not at all improbable that such
beneficial works might often stop for want of labourers,
through the demand for labour which they will have
caused to spring up.
Suppose it should in some instances turn out (as
perhaps it would) that the enterprize is so successful
that it would even have been profitable to individuals.
That would, after all, be a mistake not of the most
The systematic and productive employment of pau-
pers, is one of the means which will hereafter be used
to raise the wages and sustain the position of the
independent labourer, while it will at the same time
augment the funds out of which all industry is sup-
Then it may be urged : — The poor may prefer being
employed by the public. Not if the wages are less, or
the work heavier, or more ineligible than in private
employment, — which it may always be made.
Then it will be said : — The public are undertaking
the maintenance of the people : — These are the Fiench
National-workshops over again.
But the English public would then undertake the
maintenance of not one individual more than at pre-
sent. The public will only insist on hard and really
* See the Chapter on wages.
useful workj instead of imprisonment, as the condition
of relief. The idleness and sham-work of the present
workhouses is much more like the French National-
workshops, than the disciplined and real industry
which might be brought to bear on many crying social
What remains to prevent ? The old sophism : — All
this is artificial. It is not the natural state of things.
That must be best.* Is it best ? Look around you.
* See Chapter III.
230 NATIONAL DEBT.
" Dont attempt to reduce the capital of the national
debt Let the taxes rather fructify in the pockets of
This has been the practical maxim of every ministry
since the peace.
As long as we can contrive to pay the interest of the
debt, we postpone the most fatal consequences of our
But who can contemplate, without a shudder, the
dawn of that morning, when it shall be announced that
the dividends can no longer be paid ?
Every banker, every merchant, every insurance-com-
pany, is at once insolvent. No checks, no bank-notes,
are of any value. Even specie disappears. Every man
hides or clutches with a death-gripe, his sovereign or
shilling. There are no funds to pay wages. None
to support the poor. None to carry on the govern-
ment, or preserve the peace. Eight hundred millions,
of what was yesterday the most valuable property, to-
day exists not. The just title to all other property is
gone too. All men, with the government and the
NATIOxNfAL DEBT. 231
public, are absolved from their engagements. The
miles of streets, and the superb squares of the metro-
polis, are on a sudden tenanted by bankrupts. The
French revolutions of 1789 and 1848, or the present
disorganized state of the South and West of Ireland,
are faint shadows of the misery of that fatal day. But
they do yet obscurely hint, into what profound and
bottomless depths of ruin society may fall.
Political economists are in the habit of using the
word capital in a very loose sense. Take away En-
glish credit, and so far from having a larger, England
has, as we have seen, a smaller capital than many other
nations. Where will English capital be, when the
dividends cease to be paid ?
Yet the reckless mode in which the larger portion
of the debt was contracted, has been recently, and
within a few months, repeated, and no provision made
for the support of public credit.
It may safely be said, that more awfully improvident
bargains than most of the 3 per cent, loans never were
made by any government. The enormous burthen of
the national debt at this day is mainly owing to the
practice of borrowing in a 3 per cent, stock, when the
rate of interest really paid was much more.
Suppose a hundred millions borrowed in a 8 per
cent, stock, taken at 60. Peace comes. The 3 per
cents gradually rise to 100. Not till this price is
reached and passed, not till government really owes
232 NATIONAL DEBT.
and must pay j8100 for every ^660 lent, has it even
the power of reducing the interest, and then but very
little. If we calculate what has been lost in principal
and simple interest on this sum of one hundred mil-
lions only, during the last thirty-five years, i. e. since
the conclusion of the war, by having borrowed it in a
3 per cent, stock, — if we then add what will be lost
during the next thirty -five years, — we shall find the
result almost incredible. And to the result, large as
it is, must be added half-yearly compound interest.
The burthens of the country have, by this absurd prac-
tice, been much more than doubled.
But one cannot help remarking, that as this opera-
tion has so dreadfully augmented the debt, so the
converse operation, in a high condition of public credit,
would in no very long time, and with very little sacri-
fice, certainly and materially diminish it.
" Death and the sun,^^ La Bruyere somewhere says,
" are two things which men cannot look at.'' It seems
that the capital of the national debt is a thing which
governments cannot look at.
Thirty-five years of peace have elapsed, and nothing
done to attack the principal of the debt ; or so little
as to be substantially nothing. A generation has
passed away, but the debt still frowns on us, as it did
at the termination of the war. Four things, however,
experience and observation have taught us. First,
that a sinking fund, unless by that term is meant an
excess of income over expenditure, is of no use, and
NATIONAL DEBT. 233
will always be laid hold of on the first real or fancied
emergency. Secondly, that no such excess of income
over expenditure will ever be borne, as shall effectually
reduce the capital of the debt. Thirdly, that even in
peace, occasions may and will arise for adding to the
principal of the debt. Lastly, that dilapidated public
finances are the proximate and certain cause of the
dissolution of society, and the signal not only of the
downfall of time-honoured institutions, but of the misery
and ruin of a generation. Indeed, the calamities which
other countries have suffered by the collapse of public
credit, afford but a very inadequate sketch of the ruin
of that colossal edifice here.
When, therefore, public men like the late Lord
Ashburton, to whose wisdom and prudence the nation
is under great obligations, call attention to the state of
the debt, and attempt to rouse the public and the
government to a serious consideration of this moment-
.ous evil, they deserve more attention than they receive.
It is, however, no wonder that such warnings are dis-
regarded. Debts are the most disagreeable subject to
which the attention of debtors can be solicited. The
public, deluded by fallacious hopes of benefit, sometimes
from political, sometimes from commercial changes,
pursues its favourite theory, till the pursuit is given
up as hopeless, or experience undeceives it. It then
chases some fresh phantom. Persons of more reflec-
tion are apt to silence apprehension by the selfish hope,
that things will last their time. Governments, all the
234 NATIONAL DEBT.
while, are too happy if, by temporary expedients, they
can make ends meet, or, at the very best, secure a
small margin of receipt above expenditure ; and have
no notion of such a degree of political virtue, as would
lead them to make any sacrifice to ensure the financial
prosperity of their successors.
And yet a certain, means of reducing the principal
of the debt in a few years, at a little sacrifice, seems
suggested by the very operation which has made its
amount more than double what it need have been.
Consols are now high, and were recently, at par
and above.* Suppose, when that next happens, that
to the holders of a certain amount of consols, the
option were presented of being paid off* at par, or tak-
ing at the market-price a 5 per cent, stock, irredeema-
ble for a certain number of years. The smallest frac-
tional advantage would make the acceptance of the
new stock a certainty : Power being given to trustees,
(who are now in general bound by law to invest in
the 3 per cents,) to accept the heavier stock, with
proper precautions that tenants for life, and owners of
other limited interests, are not unfairly benefited at
the expence of reversioners. When consols are at
par, the value of a 5 per cent, stock, perpetually irre-
deemable, would be 166 and more. Suppose such a
period to be fixed, during which it should be irredeem-
able, as should reduce its market value to 125. The
* So thej'^ were a hundred years ago : and will doubtless he again.
NATIONAL DEBT. 235
stock being taken at that price, the capital of the
debt so dealt with is not only reduced at once by 20
per cent., but put into a condition for future effectual
reduction of interest. The additional charge would
be less in time and amount than that of terminable
annuities. At the expiration of the prefixed period, if
the finances permitted it, the holders might again be
offered, instead of a reduced interest, a heavy stock at
a premium, irredeemable again for a certain number
of years ; by which a further amount of principal would
be again struck off. The experiment might be tried
(if found to answer) on other portions of the debt,
perhaps eventually on the whole debt. Instead of a 5
per cent, stock, 6 or 7 per cent, stocks might be created,
which would be still more powerful engines of reduc-
tion. It is impossible to predict the result of such an
experiment, but it is not improbable that the effect on
public credit of an engine so certainly at once and
beforehand, extinguishing large portions of the capital
of the debt, might be to raise still higher the value
of government annuities. It is obvious that the higher
the credit of government, the easier the operation.
Supposing that the value of government annuities re-
mained exactly the same, and that no pecuniary gain
to the nation attended the expedient, still the effect
would be to compel the payment of a large portion of
principal every few years in the shape of some addi-
tional interest ; the advantage being, that the capital
of the debt is not only reduced at once and beforehand,
236 NATIONAL DEBT.
but the interest is made easily and effectually reducible
in future. There can, however, be little doubt that
the credit of government would rise with the success
of the operation, so as to make the gain great and the
loss little. Had such a mode of dealing with the debt
been adopted,* at the conclusion of the war, the debt,
notwithstanding its immense amount, would by this
time with very little sacrifice have been brought within
a manageable compass. The temporary addition to the
interest would be perhaps satisfied out of the ordinary
revenue ; but if not, the certainty of effectually redu-
cing the principal of the debt, by doing it beforehand,
would be a powerful reason for continuing, or even
augmenting, extraordinary resources.f
The punctuality with which every public engagement,
from the Revolution to this hour, has been redeemed,
and more than redeemed, by the bright and spotless
honour of the nation, will not be without its reward.
The consequent marvellous strength and elasticity of
our most valuable possession, public credit, may yet
enable some honest and energetic minister to lighten
the burthens of the country effectually.
Moreover the contract with the national creditor is
a metallic contract. Many recent discoveries, not only
in California, but elsewhere, seem to portend another
fall in the precious metals, like that which happened
three hundred years ago. Such a fall would diminish
* It is not essential that consols should be at par.
f Like the income, or property-tax.
NATIONAL DEBT. 237
the national burthens not only to a proportionate^ but
to a much greater extent.
The national debtor, or, in other words the nation,
is in justice as well as law, entitled to the full benefit
of the depreciation.
" Absenteeism is no evil."
This is gravely maintained by Mr. McCulloch,* and
many other political economists.
Mr. McCulloch lays it down distinctly, that if an
Englishman of fortune, drawing his income from Eng-
land, instead of spending in on English commodities
at home, spends it on French commodities in France,
England loses nothing, and France gains nothing by
his so doing.
Of course it follows, that if all the nobility and
gentry of England, all the landlords, fund-holders,
mortgagees, all the proprietors of railway, canal and
mining shares, were to do the same — that is to say,
were to emigrate and spend all their English income
in France, on French productions only, France would
be no richer for it, and England no poorer.f
* Principles of Political Economy, p. 152. We must do Mr.
McCulloch the justice to add, that he admits the indirect evil effects of
absenteeism ; but iu a pecuniary view, he insists that it is in no degree
injurious. Yet Mr. McCulloch is a very acute and sensible writer, and
in many parts of his book shews an independence of thought, very uncom-
mon among political economists.
f Indeed this argumentum ad ahsurdum is capable of being pressed
Now this is so manifestly untrue, so contrary to the
experience of every French and English shop-keeper
and artizan, that one is curious to see by what process
of reasoning it is, that so eminent a political economist
has drawn so startling a conclusion.
His premises are these : He says^ were the English-
man to live at home and use none but foreign articles
in his establishment, he would give the same encou-
ragement to British industry that he would do if he
were to use none but British articles. Therefore he
must, it is obvious, do the same should he go abroad.
Now if the conclusion be (as it certainly is) untrue,
and yet if this conclusion certainly follow from the
premises, (as he says it obviously does,) then the fault
must be in the premises. It cannot then be true that
the use of foreign articles at home gives the same en-
couragement to British industry, as the use of British
articles. And that it is not true, we have already seen
evinced by other considerations.* But we are indebted
to Mr. McCulloch for pointing out the logical conse-
quence, if it were true.
No ! absenteeism is a great pecuniary evil and loss,
both to England and to Ireland.
The number of English who lived abroad, and the
Suppose nqf only the landlord, the fund-holder, the mortgagee, and the
shareholder, to spend the whole of their incomes on foreign commodities
abroad, but suppose it were physically possible for the farmer, the manu-
facturer, the merchant, the shopkeeper, the banker, and the labourer, to
do the same.
* See Chapters IV. and V.
Englisli revenue they spent abroad two years ago, was
immense. The Erench revolution of 1848, and the
troubles in Italy and Germany^ drove many of the
English absentees back to England, and restored to
us for a time, the benefit of their expenditure.
This is one reason among others, why we have not
yet felt all the disastrous effects of recent measures.
CHANCES OF RECIPROCITY. 241
" Other nations will follow our example of free-trade "
Our recent experiments in commercial legislation have
no parallel in the history of mankind. No one ever
set us the example, and no one has since followed ours.
Before 1846, all great nations and great statesmen
had acted on opposite principles, and always with emi-
nent success ; — Cromwell, Walpole, and Lord Chatham
in England ; Colbert and Napoleon in France. Since
1846, no disposition to imitate our policy has been
manifested by any foreign nations. Whatever changes
have occurred, or seem likely to occur, are changes the
other way. Hamburgh, the last fortress of free-trade
on the continent, has determined to join the German
Protectionist league. Hanover has just done the
same. Switzerland has augmented her import-duties.
Prance has recently inaugurated the statue of Colbert
at Rheims, his native city. Belgium and Prance, not
content with import-duties, have resorted even to boun-
ties on exportation. The more popular the govern-
ments, the more protectionist they become. The
United States have elected a protectionist President,
recalled their free-trade ambassador and sent a protec-
243 CHANCES OF RECIPROCITY.
tionist representative to this country. The Southern
states have now joined the Northern in the demand for
protection, and little doubt exists that the impending
change in the American tariff will re-impose duties for
the avowed purpose of protection.* Russia maintains
the protective policy to which she has returned.
And why should reciprocity be expected, when the
first markets in the world are already opened for
So much for voluntary imitation.
On our own colonies we have forced our new policy.
The present disposition of the West Indies, and
Canada, are the first results.
Dr. Franklin, in his " Rules for reducing a
GREAT EMPIRE TO A SMALL ONE," has thcse obser-
" I address myself," says he, " to all ministers who
have the management of extensive dominions, which
from their very greatness have become troublesome to
" In the first place, gentlemen, you- are to remem-
ber that a great empire, like a great cake, is most easily
diminished at the edges. Turn your attention, there-
fore, first to your remotest provinces, that as you get
rid of them, the next may follow in order."
* Since these observations were published in the first edition, the Pre-
sident's Message, and Mr. Meredith's Report, have appeared. Since the
seventh edition the Message of Mr. Filmore, and the Report of Mr. Cor-
■win. All protectionist alike, but the last yet more decidedly than the first.
CHANCES OF RECIPROCITY. 243
As we get rid of our colonies, we shall successively
close the colonial markets. All emancipated colonies
will do as the United States have done. They will
protect and develop their own producing power.
244 RETURN TO
" A return to the protective policy will never be."
A BOLD prophecy. For a return to a more protective
policy has happened in America, in Russia, in Hol-
land, in Germany.
Men hastily conclude, that because such great politi-
cal measures as Catholic Emancipation, or Parliamen-
tary Reform are plainly irrevocable, therefore a great
commercial measure must necessarily be irrevocable too.
But important diiferences are over-looked. In the
first of those great changes v^^e did but follow all man-
kind — nearly all governments, popular or despotic, in
a great act of public justice — the establishment of
equal religious liberty. In the second we did but
bring back the constitution to its original theory.
Whether in so doing we did practically secure better
government ; whether as an instrument of good govern-
ment the old House of Commons was not better than
the new, may be matter of controversy. To popularize
the legislature may not necessarily be to improve it, —
to make it either more honest or more efficient. But
that the rotton boroughs would have withstood the
shock of 1848, is incredible. The change, whether for
better or for worse, had become inevitable, and the
notion of retrogradation is ridiculous.
Moreover, both Catholic Emancipation and Parlia-
mentary Reform differ from a change of commercial
policy in another respect. The real effects of the two
first measures will only become apparent after the lapse
of long tracts of time, perhaps of generations. The
real effects of a change in commercial policy are much
sooner apparent. They may be plainly visible in a few
years, or even a few months.
At present we have had unlimited and indiscrimi-
nate imports only about six months. Yet much is
already hnowrij which was mere conjecture in 1846.
A comparatively uninformed man is really in some res-
pects wiser now, than the wisest of the debaters in
Much more will be withdrawn from the domain of
conjecture, and have become matter of certain know-
ledge, before another year has elapsed.*
And why are we to suppose that commercial legisla-
tion, which from the commencement of our history has
been variable and fluctuating, should all at once become
fixed and stereo-typed.
No ! As it has always changed in time past, so it
* These observations were written in October 1849. We were then
told that the decline in the value of British and Irish produce was only
246 RETURN TO PROTECTION.
surely will change again in time to come. Perhaps after
It would be wrong to say, that a return to protection
is PROBABLE, bccaUSC it is CERTAIN.
As to the period — it is a question of time and mis-
chief; how much time must elapse, and how much
more mischief be perpetrated, before the nation, not
only feels, as it has long felt, but understands and
sees, that it has been deluded. Probably the period is
It is not a class, but the nation that will insist on
the change. When it comes, it will come naturally,
irresistibly, and without danger. What dangers may
be incurred in the meantime is another thing.
WAGES OF LABOR.
" To raise the wages of labor is to impair the fund
out of which wages are paid."
This is so far from being true, that, under a proper
system, the converse is true. To raise the wages of
labour is to augment the fund out of which wages
are paid, — it is to increase the means of maintaining
In England, under the old system of protection, the
wages of labourers, artisans, and sailors have long been
much higher, than the wages of other European labor-
ers, artisans, or sailors.
These high wages have introduced a high standard
of living ; that is to say, high in comparison with
other European countries. The English laboring poor
have hitherto, on the whole, been better lodged, better
clothed, and better fed, than the Erench, the Germans,
the Russians, or the Italians. The effect has been
visible in the physical and mental qualities of the race
on land and sea, Mr. Mill admits the enormous effect
of custom in determining the actual rate of wages.
Before him, its potent and extensive operation had been
248 WAGES OF LABOR.
overlooked. A zeal for generalization had referred the
rate of wages entirely to supposed general laws. But
custom, bodily constitution, climate, artificial regula-
tions, and many other peculiar or accidental circum-
stances, have much to do in fixing the actual rate of
Yet these causes, however efficient under a system
of protection, are powerless in the presence of unlimited
competition by foreigners, worse lodged, worse clothed,
worse fed than the English. In order to compete suc-
cessfully with them, the Englishman, too, must be
worse lodged, worse clothed, and worse fed. The
foreign workmen will inevitably usurp the English-
man's market, unless he can meet them on equal
terms. Water does not more naturally and irresistibly
find its level.
The first step therefore towards an amelioration in
the condition of the working-classes, is security against
the competition of those, among whom a lower style of
1 iving, inferior diet, dress, and houses, are habitual.
This is the only true and solid foundation for measures
tending still further to better the condition of the work-
ing-classes — THE BULK OF THE NATION.
Without this foundation, you are building on a shift-
But this foundation, once securely and irrevocably
laid, other measures, tending still further to better the
condition, not only of the working-classes, but of their
WAGES OF LABOR. 249
employers^ and withal to augment industry, and in-
crease national wealth faster than ever, become possible
In the early history of a flourishing country nature
herself protects, and more than protects, the rate of
wages. Hired labor is often actually unattainable.
Wages are then an ingredient in the cost of produc-
tion, incapable of compression. But as population in-
creases, and competition not only between laborers,
but between employers, begins, then, of all the ingre-
dients in the cost of production, the item of wages be-
comes the most easily compressible. An excess of but 5
per cent, in the supply of labor may diminish wages by
one half. The surplus laborers, on pain of death, under-
bid all the rest. Competition between employers com-
pels them all to emulate each other in bearing hard on
the necessities and helplessness of the laborer. Under
this double competition, wages are ground down by
worse than hydrostatic pressure. Articles are cheap,
but they are made of human flesh.
The evil (whether artificially remediable or not) is so
far from having any natural tendency to cure itself,
that it perpetuates and aggravates itself, and eats like
a gangrene. Each reduction of wages is a reduction
of the market for commodities. Each reduction of the
market tends to a decrease of production, and a further
decrease in the demand for labour. The cheaper things
are, the more inaccessible to the poor they become.
250 WAGES OF LABOR.
The vicious circle swells into a vortex, threatening to
engulph all solid national prosperity.
In vain we glorify ourselves on our steam, our
machinery, our luxury, our science. The poor are
sinking deeper and deeper. "" It is questionable/^ says
Mr. Mill, " if all the mechanical inventions yet made,
have lightened the day's toil of any human being."
But why should we either marvel or despair ?
This is but one of a thousand instances, in which
the natural state of things comes to be vicious. Modern
political economy indeed, sits down in despair, and
has no better remedy to suggest, than the destruction
or exportation of the people. But why is it to be
assumed that human art and wisdom are more power-
less here than elsewhere ? Remedial measures will be
demanded by the masses at the hands of every states-
man of old Europe.
The subject is, no doubt, one of awful moment.
Not only action, but even speech, is perilous. Yet
silence and inaction present dangers as great, or greater,
and daily and every where threatening and blackening.
King ! Minister ! Whosoever you are ! you will soon
find you must act, although,
Incedis per ignes
Suppositos cineri doloso.
Is there really a natural and legitimate standard of
wages to be religiously worshipped, or is this pre-
WAGES OF LABOR. 251
tended standard a Fiction and false God, before whom
we are expected to bow down ?
We know of no natural standard of wages except
the result of competition just described. What is that
result ? what is that standard ? It is this, the wages
or THE WORST PAID LABOURERS THAT EXIST ON THE
FACE OF THE GLOBE. In the ficrcc struggle of uni-
versal competition, those whom the climate enables, or
misery forces, or slavery compels to live worst, and
produce cheapest, will necessarily beat out of the
market and starve those, whose wages are better. It
is a struggle between the working classes of all nations,
which shall descend first and nearest to the condition
of the brutes.
Mr. Malthus indeed says, that this natural standard
of remuneration for labour " is a most important poli-
tical barometer, expressing clearly the wants of society
respecting population." We have seen above, that it
is no such thing. We have seen, that Mr. Malthus'
views on this subject are not only at variance with
facts, but repudiated by some eminent political econo-
mists themselves. Indeed this natural standard obvi-
ously throws away the chief benefits of production it-
self, and conducts not only to barbarism, but ulti-
mately to poverty, and depopulation.
The natural standard of wages therefore, is not the
legitimate and true standard.
What then is the true standard ? What is the
standard that will effectually develop and maintain
the producing power of a nation ?
253 WAGES OF LABOR.
The TRUE STANDARD, the standard of wages that
will really at once increase and rightly distribute
national wealth, and perpetuate it to generations yet to
come is, what will oblige and enable a man to
WORK HARD, AND WORK CONSTANTLY.* DoeS thc Ict-
alone system tend to this standard ? Does the let-
alone system tend to it, either when population is
scanty, or when population is dense ?
In the ancient world, the lower orders were slaves.
The Paterfamilias, on the one hand compelled his
work-people to labor, and on the other found them in
* It ought to be sufficient to allege that this is the just standard.
For here political economy touches the kindred, but distinct science of
ethics. The rules of morality are in one respect, totally different from
those of political economy. Economical rules are subject to innumerable
exceptions, the rules of moral conduct admit of no exception.
Carry out to its logical consequences the doctrine, that the price of the
human organization, like the price of any other machine, is to be governed
immediately by supply and demand, and ultimately by the cost of produc-
tion in the cheapest and most economical mode that can possibly be devised.
Then you ought, like the ancient Lacedemonians or the modem Chinese,
to kill off deformed or superfluous children. And when the parents are
so old, that they consume more than they produce, they should also
The moral sense of mankind revolts at the very mention of such atro-
cities. But, so it does, at the mere commercial treatment of the poor,
which may be also murder on a still larger scale. That mere commercial
treatment is inconsistent, not only with the first principles of Christian civi-
lization, but with the moral instincts of universal human nature. These
are a far safer guide than economical theories. Yet an accurate exami-
nation will evince, that the liberal and christian treatment of the lower
classes, is the treatment that leads directly to national wealth. That
here, as elsewhere, what is morally wrong, is not even commercially right.
WAGES OF LABOR. 253
food, clothing, and lodging. Neither the employment
nor the remuneration of the laboring poor, were depen-
dent on competition. Ancient civilization rested for
thousands of years on the slavery of the working
classes. Christianity and modern civilization, have
indeed raised the poor from slavery. But much more
remains to be done. If you stop here, you will but
have emancipated them from masters, who at least had
human sympathies, and will have delivered them over
to those grim and capricious tyrants and giants —
SUPPLY and demand.
Slavery was found to need legal interference. So
will free labour.
The true modes of dealing with the free laboring
poor, have yet to be learnt. They differ in new and
When population is scanty, and land abundant, the
free laborer is idle and saucy. Artificial regulation
has often been found, not only useful, but absolutely
necessary to compel him to work. At this day, the
emancipated negroes in our West India Islands, having
hot sun for nothing, and as Mr. Carlyle says, plenty
of pumpkin for next to nothing, will not work. The
best of land is valueless for want of labor. Legal re-
gulations compelling the laborers to work, are by many
deemed absolutely necessary, even for the sake of the
laborers themselves. For they are rapidly relapsing into
their original barbarism.* So when you export your
* See ante p. 101, note.
254 STAGES OF LABOR.
free-laborers to Canada or Australia^ they soon cease to
work for wages, run away, and become proprietors. So
even in England 500 years ago, it was found, by ex-
perience, that the poor need not, and would not work.
A great plague in the fourteenth century having
thinned the population, the difficulty of getting men
to work on reasonable terms grew to such a height as
to be quite intolerable, and to threaten the industry of
the kingdom. Accordingly, in the year 1349, the
Statute 23rd, Edward III. was passed, compelling the
poor to work, and interfering with the wages of labor.
It was followed with the same view, through several
centuries, by a long succession of statutable enact-
ments. The wages of artisans, as well as of agricul-
tural laborers ; the prices of piece-work, as well as of
day-work ; the periods during which the poor were
obliged to work, nay, the very intervals for meals (as
in the Factory Acts of the present day) were defined
by law. Acts of Parliament, regulating wages, but
against the laborer, and in favor of the master, lasted
for the long period of 464 years. Population grew.
These laws were then found, and really became, un-
necessary and burdensome. In the year 1813, they
were all repealed.
At length the opposite evil makes its appearance.
Formerly, the poor demanded such high wages, as to
threaten industry and wealth. Now their wages are
so low, as to threaten industry and wealth equally,
and perhaps more, but in another way.
WAGES OF LABOR. 255
Does not experience then shew, that the let-alone
system is equally at fault, whether population be scanty
or dense ? Weighed in either scale of the balance, it
is found wanting.
We were ready enough to interfere for the employer ?
Can nothing now be done for the employed ?
Leaving the theoretical question and doubtful and
dangerous remedies to those who are far better quali-
fied to discuss them, are there not three safe prac-
tical measures which, in our own old country, would
have a direct and effectual influence in favor of all the
Never, however, losing sight of the fundamental
position, that a population whose wages are high,
whether naturally or artificially, must not be exposed
to competition, with a population whose wages are low.
These measures are first, a system of arbitration
for the settlement of wages.
Until recently, masters could combine to sink wages,
but the workmen were not allowed to combine to pre-
vent it, or to raise wages.
This prohibition was no part of the old common law,
but a relic of the artificial regulations which formerly
existed in favour of the masters, and against the w^ork-
people. Traces of its existence, and perhaps of its
necessity, are to be found as early as the reign of
256 WAGES OF LABOR.
The natural power and right of combination is now
by law restored to the workman ; but the only weapon
which he can wield is intimidation. Intimidation of
the master by strikes, intimidation of his fellow-work-
men by secret and illegal menace. In this barbarous
state of things, frequent strikes not only starve the
workmen with their innocent wives and children, and
injure the masters, but damage and stop the industry
of the country. These strikes generally, however,
end by a representative of the workmen in the parti-
cular trade, agreeing with the representative of the
masters on a scale of wages.
What is done at last, after incalculable mischief, in
an imperfect and bungling manner, might be done at
first in a proper and enlightened manner. All trades
are now allowed by law to combine. Trades' unions
are perfectly legal. They might, in every trade and
occupation, be empowered to name arbitrators to meet
arbitrators whom the masters should be bound to
appoint. If as would often happen, these arbitrators
could not agree, an umpire previously appointed by
enlightened public authority, taking into consideration
all the circumstances, should settle the difference. The
award, or umpirage, would at least produce a scale, the
joint result of practical knowledge and enlarged views.
Without at present going further, all private bargains
would have a reference to that scale.
Such arbitrations are a great want of the country.
Once introduced, they would spread every where and
WAGES OF LABOR. 257
into every department of labour. Their utility and
general applicability has been placed beyond doubt by
the experience of our neighbours — the French.
The " Conseil des Prud'hommes" in France exer-
cises functions of this nature. In the departments,
these councils have long existed. Into Paris they
were introduced in the year 1844, and they are now
established by law.
In many trades, representatives of the workmen are
to meet delegated representatives of the masters.
Among other things, this council settles the hours of
labour, the rate of wages, and the conditions on
which children shall be employed. An appeal lies to
the ' Tribunal de Commerce.''
The deliberations and decisions of these councils
(where they have been acted on) have been found
by experience, long, extensive and various, to be emi-
nently useful in preventing strikes, and yet establish-
ing a fair rate of wages. The regulations as to the
hours and rates of wages in different trades fill a thick
volume. But this complexity is more apparent than
real, because it comprehends the distinct regulations
of many trades ; and it is cheaply purchased by the
AVhere the decisions of these councils are uniform
and acted on, no master can now undersell by beating
down wages, or exacting more work j for all the mas-
ters are then subject to the same decisions of their res-
pective councils, regulating the rate of wages and the
hours of labor.
258 WAGES OF LABOR.
Even in England, experience is shewing us, in spite
of theories, that the new phenomena of production on
a large scale by steam power and complex machinery,
are inconsistent with the old and simple relations be-
tween master and workmen. Witness the Factory Act,
and the laws against the truck system. These measures
are the aurora of a new and beneficent legislation.
The poor, however, in order to obtain justice, must
have some point of support, some fulcrum on which
to rest the lever. In England, they already have it in
the public provision made for them. But it is now
found by experience that a too severe and niggardly
administration of the poor-law, so far from raising
wages, (as was once confidently predicted,) depresses
them, as might have been expected. Yet more gen-
erous support, on the present lazy system, would aggra-
vate a burthen already intolerable.
The SECOND measure therefore is this. The indus-
trial discipline, and productive employment of the able-
bodied pauper, especially on the land, or in the pro-
duction of food, directly or indirectly. This labour as
we have seen, might be so directed as not only not to
supersede any other labour, but even to increase the
demand for it, and thus doubly relieve the labour-
market, while it added to the permanent and most valu-
* Since these observations were written, a Society has been formed for
this most important object.
WAGES OF LABOR. 259
able wealth of the kingdom, and actually diminished
The THIRD measure is the prohibition or discourage-
ment of work by little children.
Not merely in our great textile manufactures of
cotton_, wool, linen, and silk, but in a vast number of
other great manufactures, nay even of mechanical and
handicraft trades, the labour of little children has of
late, been introduced. Here is a modern, but over-
whelming eruption of cheap labour, flooding the labour-
market. ' A child,^ says the master, ' can do this work
as well as you, at a fourth of what you demand, why
should I pay you more than the child ? ' In many
trades, children assist their parents in piece-work at
home. The ultimate consequence is, that the labourer
gets no more for the week^s work of his whole family,
than he would have done, or did, for his own work
alone. Indeed, he often does not even get what his
children earn. For there has grown up of late, a trade
in little children. The middle-man hires little boys
and girls of six or seven years old, and lets them out
in gangs, (to a button manufacturer, for example,) at
so much an hour. A portion only of what he receives
he pays to their parents, the residue is his profit on his
human live stock.
And what is the consequence to the wretched chil-
dren ? The joyous morning of life brings no joy to
* See the Chapter on Pauperism.
260 WAGES OF LABOR.
them. Their parents, no longer their affectionate pro-
tectors, are transformed into task-masters and slave-
drivers. The state abandons and condemns the little
boys and girls to ignorance, vice, and premature decay.
Yet that very state, with marvellous caprice and
inconsistency, protects them in other things, where
they need protection infinitely less. A child contracts
to pay a shilhng. In steps the offended law and ex-
claims, " I will not allow a child to be bound by a
contract, I will interfere and avoid it. Childhood and
youth are vanity and should be so. They require my
extraordinary and special protection." Yet, the same
law sees with infinite complacency the life and health,
and morals of millions of children mortgaged. " Let
a slave touch my soil," says the law, " and his fetters
drop off." Yet the children of the land are now born
to the worst and most destructive slavery.
Of such measures the consequence would be a
general, inflexible, and permanent advance of wages.
But the masters are very much mistaken, if they
suppose that in such an event either the producing
power of the country would suffer, or that they would
themselves be losers. There is no increased cost of
production in the proper sense of the expression. No
more labour is necessary to produce an article than
before. But the labourer gets his fair share. And
under a system of protection from unlimited and unreg-
ulated foreign competition, the increased rate of wages
WAGES OF LABOR. 261
does not fall on one producer or some producers only ;
it affects all alike. It would be more correct to say-
it benefits all alike. Commodities, it is true, rise in
proportion ; but tbe general ability to purchase rises in
a greater proportion still. The wages of labour, no
longer compressible, are no longer, as heretofore, fixed
by the price of commodities ; but the price of com-
modities, (as they used to be, and ought to be,) by the
necessary and just wages of labour. For the meat and
drink of the workman can now no more be stinted,
than the fuel and water of his indefatigable and hun-
dred-handed fellow-labourer, the Steam Engine.
Nor let employers fear a loss of markets. Their
markets would not be diminished, but enormously aug-
mented in extent. And, moreover, instead of precarious
and fluctuating markets, they would have durable and
Every increase of the rate in wages enormously in-
creases the power of the bulk or the nation to
consume, and 'pay for what they consume. It creates
a new and enormous demand. It creates a new and
immense home-market. An increase of but a shilling
a day in the average wages of the working-classes,
would amount to forty or fifty millions sterling a year,
or more. It increases their effective demand to that
extent. It creates a new market to such an extent as
would almost compensate for the loss of our whole ex-
port trade. So, on the other hand, a decrease in the
262 WAGES or labor.
wages of labour, to the extent of a shilling a day,
diminishes the market which the expenditure of the
labouring-classes creates, to the extent of forty or fifty
millions a year or more.
What is wanting to increase production and augment
capital ? Markets, — extensive and insatiable
MARKETS. These are the one thing needful. But ex-
tensive and insatiable markets are exactly what a better
remuneration of the working-classes will supply.
What ! it will be said, are both to gain ? masters
and work-people too ? Yes ! both are to gain. Infi-
nitely more work will be done, and what is done will
be better done. The secret is this. More industry
being employed, more wealth will be created.
The producing forces of the nation will be
EFFECTUALLY DEVELOPED. The auuual producc of
the land and labour of the kingdom will be prodigiously
augmented. There will, therefore, be more to divide
between profits and wages. Masters will have more,
as well as workmen. The funds which employ labour
will be augmented, not diminished.
There will be at once more for all, and it will be
better distributed amongst all.
And as did the old and vicious state of things, so
will the new and better state of things, tend to per-
petuate, increase, and establish itself. Each increase
of wages is an increase of markets. Each increase of
markets a further increase of production. Each increase
of production, a further demand for labour.
WAGES OF LABOR. 263
But it will be said. ' According to you, the more
the labourer is paid, the richer and better able to pay
him the country will be/ No ! you soon reach a limit.
Pay him so that he can and must work hard, work
well, and work constantly, and you need not fear.
That is not only the just, but the only true standard.
Production will outstrip consumption. His wages no
less than his work will augment the national wealth
and the national markets. Pay him more, so that he
can live in idleness or luxury, and the sources of
wages are dried up.
Next it is said : ^ This will diminisb exports.'
It will not affect exports to foreign countries much.
It will not affect exports to the colonies at all. And
any trifling loss on the foreign trade, will be compen-
sated over and over again by the immense increase of
the home market.
Then it is said : * Population will increase. '^
Those who fear it are referred to the remarks already
made on that subject.
Lastly, it is objected : * All this is artificial.' So is
every really good measure.
The labouring classes alone produce all the wealth
of the kingdom. Under a proper system, they would
enjoy their just share of that wealth, in the shape of
fair and reasonable wages. A system, under which they
264 WAGES OF LABOR.
do not enjoy it, is not only vicious and unnecessary,
but while unjust and cruel to them, is injurious and
dangerous to all.
Deep wisdom lies in the sacred precept — Thou
SHALT NOT MUZZLE THE OX THAT TREADETH OUT THE
INTEREST OF CONSUMERS. 265
" Don't tax the nation for the benefit of a producing
class. Take care of the consumer, and let the pro-
ducer take care of himself"
The maxims of our ancient and successful policy were
Our fathers said, — " Whatsoever you do, be sure
you take care to develop the producing forces of
YOUR own country. The gain of doing this, will
be so immense, that it will present you with an ample
fund, not only sufficient to pay the tax you complain
of, but after having paid it still super-abounding, and
leaving in your hand, for your own spending, a surplus
ten times as great as that tax. Nay, the very tax itself
will, in most cases, soon disappear. For the devel-
opment of your own producing power will not only,
at first and at once, bring plenty and riches ; but in
the end will bring a steady cheapness too."
So reasoned Cromwell, Lord Chatham, Sir Robert
Walpole, Edmund Burke, Peter the Great, Colbert,
Napoleon. So at this day reason France, Belgium,
Russia, Germany, America.
266 INTEREST OF CONSUMERS
Fathers and children, however, both cordially agree
in this. The more a nation produces, the richer it is ;
and the less it produces, the poorer it is.
Indeed this seems a self-evident proposition. With-
out production of value you can neither consume nor
buy. Ex nihilo nihil fit. Every increase of domestic
production is an addition of so much wealth : any di-
minution of domestic production is a subtraction of so
The children, however, assume that the amount
of production in a country, — (the land, the men, and
the actual property remaining the same,) is an unvary-
ing quantity. But the fathers assert that (the land, the
men, and the actual property of a country remaining
the same,) that country will produce infinitely more,
or infinitely less, according as certain regulations,
favourable to domestic production, are present or
The children say, we will no longer make our hats
at home. We can buy them from France 5 per cent,
cheaper. We shall thus relieve the country from a
tax equivalent to this 5 per cent, paid to the domestic
hat-manufacturer. But the fathers, with parental li-
cense of speech, say, if this be a specimen of your
heads, they do not deserve any hats at all. Do you
not see, that to escape what you call a tax, you are
going to destroy an amount of annual national produc-
tion (which is the same thing as annual national gain)
of twenty times the amount of your projected saving.
AND PRODUCERS. 267
Make the hats at home, and the country produces
more by the aggregate value of the hats. You are
going to make the country throw away 1 00 per cent, to
gain five. You are going, it is true, to take off a cus-
toms^ duty of 5 per cent., but you are going to lay on
a confiscating property tax of 100 per cent. And your
new tax is not only twenty times as great as the one
you take off, but much worse. The old tax was at least
a benefit to some of your own people. The new one is
a present to the foreigner.
' But,' say the children, ' we shall sell to the foreign
manufacturer what will buy the hats.' 'Yes,^ say
the fathers, ^ but your situation in that respect is just
what it was before. Before the change, you sold to the
English hat-manufacturer ; now you sell to the French.
How does that compensate for the loss of your hat-
manufacturers ? They are the worse, but who is the
better, except to the extent of 5 per cent on their
loss ? '
This question we have already examined in detail,
and we fear, at too great length.* We have already
submitted to the candid and unprejudiced reader, our
reasons for thinking the fathers clearly right, and the
children clearly wrong.
Produce within your own dominions, what you for-
merly imported from abroad, and your land, labor,
and capital, produce what they otherwise would not
* See Chapters IV. and V.
268 INTEREST OF CONSUMERS
have produced. They still produce the articles to
purchase the new domestic product^ just as much as
they did before. But over and above this, they now
produce the whole value of the new domestic product.
Tried by the rule, that the more a nation produces the
richer it is, you are now the richer. You have now
developed a new producing power of the country,
which otherwise, instead of being developed would
have been stifled and smothered by foreign imports,
perhaps a little cheaper. By a sacrifice it may be of
one per cent, you have gained the other ninety-nine.
To pay your tax of one pound, you are presented with
a new and additional net income of a hundred pounds.
And what you have done other nations may also do.
The producing power of all the earth may thus be effec-
tually developed, and yet, as we have seen, ample scope
every where left for foreign trade and international
So far from the amount of production, in a country
being an unvarying quantity, (the land labour and
property remaining the same), we have elsewhere seen
what immense masses of capital land and labour in Great
Britain and Ireland are now actually idle. Capable not
so much of immediately augmenting the national wealth
by a miserable gain of one or two per cent on the
price of commodities, as of augmenting the produce of
the land labour and capital of the United Kingdom by
* See Chapters VL and X.
AND PRODUCERS. 269
tens and scores of millions annually. If it should cost
you two or three millions a year, in the price of com-
modities, to develop these, your own producing forces,
they will present you with a new hundred millions to
pay it. You surely ought not to complain of being
taxed by those, who give you first money to pay the
tax, and then fifty times as much for yourself.
But the children are not yet silent. They say, —
" It is the producers that gain, while the consumers
Again the fathers rejoin, ^^You are wrong in mar-
shalling the nation into two hostile camps of producers
and consumers. Not only is every producer a con-
sumer, but there is not a single consumer who is
not either a producer, or else living entirely out of
the income of a producer — standing or falling with
Labourers, farmers, manufacturers, are all clearly
producers. The landlords derive all their rent from
the revenue of producers ; so of course, do the mort-
gagees, to whom they pay interest. The professional
man is ultimately paid by producers. So is the fund-
holder himself, and the public servant too. Find if
you can, a living man who is either a producer, or main-
tained by a producer. Whatever therefore, furthers the
interest of producers, not only benefits them, but also
augments the common fund from which every con-
sumer derives his income; and on the other hand.
INTEREST OF CONSUMERS
whatever ruins or injures producers, ruins or injures
But suppose^ secondly, that instead of being wrong,
you were right, and that consumers and producers
were really two distinct and mutually independent
classes, as you pretend. Yet they are still, at any rate,
members of the same political community, and we are
now discussing the effect of fiscal regulations on the
wealth of the whole country. If you develop your
producing power so as to produce at home (although
one per cent dearer), what you used to produce abroad,
consumers lose one where producers gain 100. The
nation at large still gains 99.
So if you used to produce at home, but now prefer
to import from abroad because you can save 1 per cent
in price, you sacrifice 100 per cent to gain 1. The
nation at large loses 99. Supposing even consumers
and producers to be distinct classes, the result would
be this. — you take a tax of 1 per cent off one class,
and lay a property-tax of 100 per cent on another
Thirdly and lastly, you assume that the trifling tax
(under w^hich you are so impatient that you would
blindly change it for one fifty or a hundred times as
great), will continue for ever. It is a gratuitous and
and unfounded assumption. Develop your own indus-
trial forces, and concentrate them on industries for
AND PRODUCERS. 271
which your climate, soil, and people are fit, and you
will have at once plenty and riches, and very soon
Ueflect, and you will find that the wise and really
gainful policy, is not that which prematurely grasps
anyhow, at cheapness, but that which develops the
producing power of the country.
Our fathers, therefore, were right, and we are wrong.
They knew how to grow rich natiouallyj as well as in-
dividually. We have seen how their theory has every
where been justified by experience.
272 INTEREST OF INDIVIDUALS
" Individuals know their own interests, and may and
should be left to take care of them in their own
way ; for the interests of individuals, and the in-
terest of the public, tvhich is but an aggregation of
It is to be feared that a rigorous analysis of these two
propositions would raise very serious doubts of both.
Thousands every year find it their interest to appro-
priate the goods of others to their own use, in the most
direct way possible. The burglar employs his capital,
(which is a picklock and a bunch of skeleton keys,) as
he deems most conducive to his private interest. But
the general opinion of mankind is, that the public
interest is very much concerned in putting down such
employment of labor and capital.
It is true that those marauders who have been found
out, mistook their own interest. But then the first
part of the proposition is no truer than the second.
Men do not, it appears, always know their own interest.
Adam Smith, when he promulgated this maxim -of
the let-alone school, had never seen a modern cotton
AND THE COMMUNITY. 2/3
millj and therefore liad no conception of the necessity,
or utility of a Factory Act. Let any candid man have
visited Manchester before it, and visited Manchester
since ; he, and not Adam Smith is quahfied to form
Adam Smith had not witnessed the debasing and
brutalizing employment of women in Collieries.
He had never seen a middle-man hiring a gang of
little boys and girls of six or seven years old, and let-
ting them out at so much an hour to Birmingham
We have already passed in review,* a multitude of
instances in which individuals mistake their true in-
terest : and in which the public interferes most benefi-
cially for their guidance and protection.
We have seen many more instances, in which the
interest of individuals, and the true interest of the
public, are at open variance, and in which again the
wisdom and power of the whole community is compelled
So it may sometimes be for the interest of indi-
viduals to buy in one market ; but it may at the same
time be for the interest of the public at large, that they
should buy in another.
We do not say that such is the interest of the public,
but only that it may be. Whether it actually be so
or not, and to what extent it is so, has been already
* See ante, Chapter VIIL f See Chapters IV. V. & XXVIII.
" England may he made the work-shop of the world. ""
Supposing this consummation as possible as it is
visionary, the next inquiry is, whether it be desirable.
An illustration of the nature of manufacturing in-
dustry had better be taken from our neighbours than
ourselves. The old rule, which Terence lays down for
individuals, is good for nations too.
Inspicere tanquam in speculum in vitas omnium
Jubeo, atque ex aliis sumere exemplum sibi.
We shall be less likely to be warped by party spirit ;
more likely to see facts in their true light ; and in-
structed by observing how far the same causes produce
the like effects under different circumstances.*
The Department of the North boasts of the richest
soil in France, and the greatest wealth.
It is the work-shop of France. Cotton, linen, and
iron, are manufactured on a vast scale.
* The materials for much of what is said below on the subject of French
manufacturing industry, are drawn from the Report of M. Blanqui to the
Academic des Sciences Morales et Politiques. His book is entitled •■' Des
classes ouvrieres en France." He is a friend of order, and, what is rare
in France, a free-trader.
No Factory Acts there protect the poor.* In this
respect things are, in many manufactories, left to their
natural course. Ceaseless competition, not only between
laborers, but between employers, drives down prices
and wages to the lowest possible standard. Any new
estabhshment, either on a larger scale, or furnished with
improved machinery, at once imposes on all smaller
establishments or inferior machinery, the necessity of
yet greater and greater exertion, and yet lower and lower
wages. Night and day, the indefatigable and ponder-
ous piston stamps. Night and day, relays of human
flesh struggle to keep up with its remorseless and un-
wearied march. The white slaves, in crowded apart-
ments, breathe an atmosphere, here loaded with dust,
there charged with moisture. The liquid eye and
bright complexion of childhood, no longer shine.
Health is stolen from children who know not its value.
Their moral ruin is as complete as their physical ruin.
The conscience, the moral sense, has never been de-
veloped by parental and domestic influence, or invigo-
rated and fortified by the solemn services and sanctions
of religion. Education is impracticable, virtue impos-
sible, vice and disease triumphant. Here is the true
modern martyrology ! Here the true massacre of the
Thousands of the manufacturing poor in Lisle are,
* There are laws touching the employment of young children in manu-
factories, but not enforced. Since the last revolution, the hours of labor
for workmen of all ages have been limited by law throughout France.
even when employed, reduced to sucli a state of
poverty in the midst of abounding and brilliant opu-
lence, that they live, not in houses, but in underground
cellars, lighted only by the entrance. Day-light comes
to them an hour later than to other people, and leaves
them an hour earlier. No chair, no bed is found in
many of these subterraneous caverns. The wretched
inmates huddle together without distinction of age or
sex, sometimes on the broken straw of rape-seed, some-
times even on dry sand. The father of the family is
at home only to sleep. He is obliged to sell his little
ones to the Moloch of the place. You may see the
shadow of a man gliding to the factory with a little
boy or girl, in the grey twilight, sometimes of the
morning, sometimes of the evening. The wretched,
but tender and vigilant mother, in vain watches her
helpless offspring. It is affirmed of these children in
Lisle, that 20,700 out of 21,000* die before they are
five years old. And if you would know the condition
of multitudes that survive, visit the quarter of Saint
Sauveur, the Rue des Etaques, the Cour Gha, the Cour
du Sauvage, the Place aux Oignons, and you are sur-
rounded by clamorous demands for charity from a
swarm of little human animals, ragged and nearly
naked, pale, iU-favoured, ricketty, scrofulous, and de-
Such is the manufacturing industry of Lisle, even
* This proportion seems incredible. But M. Blanqui reports it on tlie
authority of a medical man at Lisle.
in the season of prosperity. But Frencli manufacturing
industry, like English, perpetually alternates between
over-production and stoppage, — between fever and
ague. When trade languishes, cold, famine and dis-
ease devour the population.
The masters are in a condition equally precarious
and anxious, if not equally wretched. They are in
continual danger from destruction by competition.
They dare not stop, and hardly dare to proceed. They
produce without any certain market and are sailing
without a compass, they know not whither.
The extremes of wealth and poverty meet in the
department of the North. Every third person is said
to be in hopeless indigence, or in English phraseology,
The bulk of the manufacturing population in Rouen
is in a condition little better than that in Lisle.
The evils that afflict Lyons under a different system,
and in a better climate, are of a somewhat different
class. The work-people are not there congregated
into large factories, working by machinery. But the
struggle for wages, between the life of the workman
on one hand, and the' necessites of the exporting
master on the other, is as intense and infinitely more
violent. The hot blood and exalted imagination of the
South are engaged. Here rise and rage Socialism,
Communism, Eourrierism, Phalansterianism, and all
those other portentous and monstrous births, and grim
but living abortions, engendered by half-knowledge on
the intolerable miseries of the unregulated manufactur-
ing system. Twice even during the reign of Louis
Philippe, was Lyons in full insurrection. Twice was
this rebellion of the belly quelled by necessary severity.
Twice did grape-shot rake the streets, and the kennels
run with blood.
Who shall resolve the terrible problems than manu-
facturing industry produces ? What exists in Lisle,
Rouen, and Lyons, exists more or less wherever unregu-
lated manufacturing industry is to be found.
Surely experience teaches that manufacturing in-
dustry, if it is to promote the solid interest of a country,
requires moderation and controul. That its undue
ascendency over all other industries, is attended with
great evil and danger.
Even political economists, who have maturely re-
flected on the subject, and not only its social, but its
political aspect, regard the unlimited extension of
manufactures already existing, even in England, with
alarm. "Perhaps," says Mr. McCuUoch, "it may in
" the end be found, that it was unwise to allow the
" manufacturing system to gain so great an ascendancy
*"' as it has done in this country ; and that measures
" should have been early adopted to check and mode-
" rate its growth.'^ *
The hostile tariffs therefore, which do and will
effectually prevent our becoming the work-shop of the
* Principles of Political Economy, p. 185.
world, are so far from being unmitigated evils, that
they may in the long run turn out to be blessings in
Surely the wisdom and care of the whole community
should be directed to making the basis on which
manufactures repose as permanent and stable, as
Our greatest manufacture, in addition to the uncer-
tainty incident to all manufacturing industry, has
elements of instability and decay peculiarly its own.
It rests at present on two foundations, equally insecure
and precarious. It unnecessarily depends for its raw
material on a distant and rival state, and for many of
its present markets on jealous and encroaching com-
They are its true friends, who would persuade it to
draw its materials from British India and other British
dependencies, and to find, in addition to its present
vent, not only secure, but larger and unlimited markets
in British possessions.
But there is another raw material of home growth
adapted to our textile manufactures — flax.
The natural use, and (if one may presume to say so,)
the design of this plant is the clothing of mankind.
The Egyptian men and women who walked about in
the time of Moses or Cambyses, and whose mummies
we now unrol, were clad in home-grown and home-spun
linen garments. Nearly all soils in England and Ire-
and are adapted to the growth of flax. So universal was
its use in this country, that the under-clothing for the
person, and the textures applied to domestic uses, are
still always called linen, whatever the materials of
which they are made. Unfortunately of late, having
been superseded by foreign cotton, it has become
almost a luxury of the upper and middle classes.
The main obstacles which have hitherto prevented
its successful rivalry with cotton, are said to be these.
The large bulk of the crop, augmenting the expenses
of transport, and limiting the market. And the ex-
haustion of the soil, by removing so much produce
from the land. But it is affirmed, that instead of being
pulled before it is ripe, the flax may now be permitted
to mature its seed, with which the farmer may fatten
his bullocks and enrich his land. It may be stacked,
and at any time by a simple machine, the fibre may be
separated from the straw. The fibre alone may be
sent to market, and the straw being sixty or seventy per
cent of the bulk, may be kept at home to be converted
into manure. Flax prepared in the method patented
by M. Claussen, may, it is said, be woven either with
cotton or with wool. Under these improved conditions
it is affirmed to be now a more profitable crop than
wheat, even supposing the price of wheat be very much
higher than of late it has been.
Without venturing to obtrude any opinion on mat-
ters, which can only be decided by the experience of
practical men, let us see what are the consequences if
home grown flax can be, or could be produced cheaper
than American cotton, or substituted for it.
Suppose that we now pay ten millions a year for
American cotton, and suppose we now export manu-
factured cotton, hardware, and other manufactures to
pay for it, to the same amount.
Suppose that hereafter, instead of this we pay our
own labourers, farmers, and landlords ten millions a
year for flax. It is now the English and the Irish
that have the spending of this ten millions, — not the
Americans. English markets are annually increased
by the expenditure of that amount, instead of Ameri-
If it be said, your exports of manufactures to Ame-
rica will fall ofi" by ten millions. Suppose they should.
The manufacturers are no losers by that. The English
and Irish are now their customers instead of the
Americans — that is all.
The whole value of the cotton was resolvable into
American net gain. The whole value of the flax is
now resolvable into English and Irish net gain.*
Moreover, your supply is always certain, and you
enjoy immense advantages in that full and various em-
ployment of the people, which attends the mutual
vicinity of growers and manufacturers. f
It is said, that Mr. Warne's introduction of flax into
the parish of Trimingham, has destroyed its pauperism.
* See Chapters IV. and V. f See Chapter VI.
Suppose the substitution of home grown flax for
American cotton to be possible; it would in like
manner destroy the pauperism of Great Britain and
Again, the miseries springing from the want of a
Factory Act in France, and its great success here,
shew that manufacturing labour requires artificial
Lastly. The evils arising from an undue proportion
of manufacturing industry are to be corrected, not by
limiting its absolute but its relative amount ; that is
to say, by energetic and stubborn efibrts to promote in
every possible way the subjugation and improvement of
British, Irish and Colonial soils.
Common sense, nature, reason, history, economy,
experience, all unite in one loud and overwhelming
cry : — Employ your people on the land. Not only in
your Colonies, but even at home, and in Ireland you
have unoccupied and waste lands enough, and more
than enough. No machinery, no factory, is like the
Land. Light, air, and human hands, are the elements
of unexpected and unknown productiveness, even on
soil that is now little better than mere horizontal
"Replenish the earth, and subdue it," is a com-
mand not yet superseded. But you cannot fulfil the
first branch safely, without the second.
" War and invasion are hut dangers of hy-gone
The authors of our new commercial policy do not dread
our next real war without very good reason.
The reverberation of the first sixty-eight pounder will
shake down their house of cards. It will wake up the
nation to the stern reality, that it has become depen-
dent on a victory at sea, for its bread and meat. That
from a naval defeat flows at once an inundation of
horrors, inevitable, universal, indescribable. No one
can answer for the excesses of popular indignation and
But in the meantime, the nation is rocked to sleep
with the comfortable assurance, that there will never
be any more war.
Would to God it were so !
But human nature, and human passions and de-
pravity, are ever the same. The men who, despising
the authentic and unvarying record of three thousand
years, legislate on the assumption that human nature
is changed, and that there will now at last be no more
war, are like those who build villas and towns on the
slopes of ^tna or Vesuvius. Thirty or forty years of
treacherous silence and serenity have obliterated the
recollection and the dread of the subterraneous thun-
der, the mid-day darkness, and the glowing lava and
Famine, pestilence and war, are the three ministers
by whom the Almighty has in all ages past chastised
the nations. Four short years ago, our presumptuous
security deemed itself inaccessible to any one of the
A mysterious and inexplicable disease in a single
esculent root, suddenly brings the first. Famine rages
in our borders.
A new and awful malady, in the presence of which
our precautions are vain, and our science, folly, seizes
our human bodies. Pestilence is come, and mows
down its thousands.
Hitherto we have escaped the plague of war, or
rather have had a longer respite than usual. But the
interval is short, and, in the reckoning of history,
nothing. We are but approaching the end of the
first half of the century. How did even this short
period begin ? The first half of the nineteenth cen-
tury found all Europe in a deadly struggle, and for
one third of its course waded through blood and war
on a scale of unprecedented magnitude. The thunder
of the cannon has scarce died on our ears. Men yet
in middle life remember Waterloo.
And during the precarious interval that remained.
how many times, especially in late years, have we been
on the very brink of war. It is in vain that we are
bound (as Lord Brougham says) in heavy recognizances
to keep the peace. It is in vain that this once high-
spirited nation has tamely submitted to demands and
slights which Lord Chatham would not have brooked
for an instant. A reduction of our armaments does but
increase the danger of war ; by emboldening those, who,
with the envy and jealousy natural to mankind, are
perpetually watching for an opportunity to humble us.
To say nothing of our hair-breadth escapes in 1840,
and again in 1844, from a war with the first military
power on earth, — nothing of the high, captious, and
exacting tone assumed on more than one recent occa-
sion by the new and great power of the West ; — look
at what happened but the other day. A few weeks ago
when Kussia and Austria threatened Turkey for afford-
ing an asylum to the Hungarian refugees, we ventured
once more, to listen to the dictates of honour, and to use
old English language, in behalf of an oppressed, but
faithful and magnanimous ally. The whole nation really
meant what it said. Straightway peace or war hung
suspended on the caprice of a single individual.* A
* But the present sovereign of the Russian Empire, has, on the whole,
been a man of peace and moderation. Who shall answer for his successor?
Constantinople and British India are in sight.
The world at this hoiir presents little securit}' for the continuance of
The German sovereigns have broken their promises, and stand on a
volcano. When the eruption breaks forth, Russia may think it necessary
restless night, or an indigestion, might have been (as
it often has been) the spark to fire the train. And
what a mine was ready to explode ! Five great powers
at once engaged. The bright harnessed hosts of
Europe, in numbers innumerable, awaiting the signal.
The original cause of war, as always happens, soon for-
gotten. Italy, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Holland,
embraced in an unextinguishable conflagration. The
deadly conflict, not confined to the narrow limits of
Europe, but lighting up both hemispheres, and blazing
on every sea, all round this terrestrial ball !
Nay, within the last five years, actual war has raged
in all four quarters of the globe. In the North and
South of Africa. In South America. In North America
on a great scale, and followed by an immense and
apparently durable conquest. In Asia ; where we our-
selves have, within that short period, been thrice
actors. Here, as in America, conquest has been the
result. In many parts of Europe, — in Italy, in Den-
to interfere, for what she deems the cause of order and civilization. The
States of Western Europe, maj^ then be compelled to interfere ; not only
for what they deem the cause of liberty, but for their own independence.
Is popular government any security against war ?
Turn to France. What armed head, may not any day, emerge from
that seething cauldron !
But, yesterday, the armed hosts of Austria and Russia were within an
inch of hostile collision. If the two nations had had the direction of
affairs, it was inevitable. The rulers were here wiser than the people.
Look at the United States. A feeble executive in the midst of a A-ain
and violent multitude. Piratical militarj^ expeditions fitted out, and issu-
ing against a neighbouring and friendly power. The multitude, enabled
by the express provisions of the constitution, to seize, at any election, the'
supreme direction of affairs.
mark, and in Hungary. The recent military operations
in Hungary alone were on a scale of enormous magni-
tude. Nearly six hundred thousand regular troops
were in the field.
We say nothing of the infinitely worse calamity of
civil war. Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Milan, two years ago,
little anticipated that the music of their balls, their
Italian and German operas, were so soon to give place
to the whistling of shells. What reason had the
inoffensive and peaceable kingdom of Denmark to
anticipate the bloody events of the past year ? Only
this, that, as in the natural, so in the political world,
sunshine nowhere lasts always.
No degree of foresight, wisdom or care, on our part,
will or can, preserve us from the contingency of war.
Our solemn obligations, our national honour, must at
all events be preserved. With nations, as with indivi-
duals, where honour is in question, interest is not to be
heard. But our true, solid, and well-understood interest
speaks the same language. The certain consequence
of disregarding national honour is a struggle a little
procrastinated, but at greater disadvantage when it
does come ; — a struggle, not with the help of allies, for
they will have been deserted and disgusted, but alone
and single-handed ; — a struggle, not for victory, but
for existence !
Ours is not the only period in history, and very
recent history too, when men have vainly flattered
themselves that the world had grown too wise to
engage in the work of mutual destruction. It has been
well observed by a modern French writer,* that in
1791, Camille Desmoulins published a work entitled
" La France Libre," in which may be found these
words : " L"esprit de conquete est perdu.^^ But at
that very hour came forth from the Military School of
Brienne a sub -lieutenant of artillery, destined to be
the greatest conqueror that the world had ever seen.
There may be seen at the Mint in Paris, a medal
struck by Bonaparte when first consul, the motto of
which is —"Paix de Punivers.'^ In 1787 Mr. Pitt
said, in one of his speeches, " The time is at hand
when, conformably to the will of Providence, the two
great nations of France and England will show the
world that they were made to cherish relations of
mutual beneficence and friendship.'^ Little did the-
speaker imagine that these two nations were then
crossing the threshold to long years of carnage, in
comparison of which all former wars were mere skir-
Do we look to history for encouragement. She offers
very little. The ' rich and solemn pencil ' of Tacitus,
pourtrays men as they were in the time of the Roman
Empire. The most recent experience evinces that men
are the same now.
Do we look to the influence of religion ? It has
* M. Chevalier, to whom we are indebted for some of the illustrations
again been observed, that she has for ages come to
an understanding with war. She has greatly mitigated
its horrors. Some of her most eminent and exemplary
professors have defined its province and traced its laws.
Search Christendom, — Only one small sect condemns
all war. Accordingly we saw the other day a dignitary
of the English Church consecrating the flags of a
regiment ; and the friends and patrons of the protestant
Christian missionaries in Tahiti, if not preaching the
necessity of war, at least taunting the government of
the day for its forbearing and pacific conduct.
Shall we turn to modern philosophy ? Who has
ever inveighed more eloquently against war than
Voltaire ? Yet it has again been truly said, that his
disciples, his successors, as it were his executors, sa-
turated the earth with blood.
Shall we look to education ? At the first ' silver
snarling ' of the trumpet, mark the kindling eye and
beating heart of that educated English youth. Cressy
and Poictiers are parcel of his English nature. Modern
accomplishments are straw to the fire in the blood.
Railways and steam-ships may do much to promote
peace among nations. But to the thoughtful mind,
the new power of nature, subjugated to human uses
since the last general war, has other, but sinister and
portentous aspects. It affords such means of offence
by land and sea, such facility of concentrating aggres-
sive as well as defensive forces, of over- leaping ancient
boundaries, and holding new conquests, that its effects
in remodelling the earth, may turn out to be as unex-
pected and marvellous in war as in peace. The very
possession of a novel and untried means of offence, will
add a double intensity to the passions of cupidity,
vengeance, and fear. What living flesh can foresee
either the venture or the stakes, when the awful game
of war comes to be played again with the power of
steam ! What territorial changes may a convulsion
among the nations, by the help of that new agency,
permanently effect ! In the meantime the principles
of human nature, which from the commencement of
authentic history, have periodically and invariably pro-
duced wars, remain the same. National pride and
resentment, the scrupulosity of national honour, the
love of novelty and excitement in the public, the
domestic difficulties of statesmen, the undue preponder-
ance in other nations of the democratic element,
knowing little and acting intemperately, are a dormant
but fulminating compound, which may at any moment
explode in an unexpected and universal war.
War is of all calamities the greatest. But seeing
that it has been so long and so often permitted, we
may reverently suppose that it is not without its per-
manent uses in the economy of Divine Providence,
and therefore may be permitted again. It does not,
after all, cause a single death that would not other-
wise have happened. W^hich, on an average, is the
worst, death in the field, or the dying strife of the
natural death-bed ? War is the theatre of great talents
and great virtues. The vain theories, the Epicurean
principles, the luxurious and enervating habits of
peace, perish together. The storm clears the atmos-
phere, and the moral health of nations is renovated.
But if war be the greatest of calamities even to a
nation well prepared, what will it be when the storm
bursts suddenly on a nation unprepared ? The answer
lies in a word, "Destruction.'^
" Cuique creditur in arte sua," is a maxim no less of
common prudence, than of common law. Address
then the question to your military and naval authorities.
They tell you that steam has now thrown a bridge
across the English channel. The greatest military au-
thority now living, if not the greatest that ever lived,
tells you that an undisciplined multitude, even of
Englishmen, in the presence of modern military
science, is just so much gun-carrion. One of your
greatest naval authorities. Lord Dundonald, tells you,
that supposed dangers of landing, and even fortified
coasts, are no defence at all : That your true and only
external defence is the old-fashioned one — the over-
whelming and ubiquitous offensive efficacy of a military
marine, which shall again sweep, as it has before
swept, your enemies off the seas.
These are the solemn warnings of England's most
illustrious sons. But we prefer prophets that pro-
phecy smooth things. On military and naval affairs,
we have the happiness to possess much greater autho-
rities, than naval or military men !
292 THE NAVIGATION LAWS.
" The Navigation Laws were useless and injurious."
To appreciate the real magnitude of the Andes or
the Cordilleras, you must view them from a distance.
Near their base the eye is obstructed by meaner eleva-
tions ; but seen from a distance of fifty miles, Chim-
borazo pierces the sky.
So, as we fall down the stream of time, and recede
from the administration of Oliver Cromwell, its real
grandeur gradually breaks upon the mental vision.
Cromwell and the Long Parliament devised the Navi-
gation Laws, and founded the British rEmpire.
From that hour the maritime greatness of England
dates. From that hour it steadily and uninterruptedly
advanced for more than a hundred and fifty years, till
at the close of the last war England^s meteor flag
floated in every clime, and rode on every sea, undis-
puted and universal victor.
This splendid success did not flow from the let-alone
policy, but from a wise and highly artificial system of
law. The great and original legislators of that day,
proposed to themselves as a national object, the in-
crease of British shipping. They saw that sailors and
THE NAVIGATION LAWS. 293
ships were the true army and omnipresent artillery
of the British Islands. Their sagacity prefigured at
once the safest and cheapest defence, and the most
irresistible means of aggression and aggrandisement.
They thought that the high seas might be made to
compensate England for the narrow extent of her
ploughed lands, — might be made to yield wealth as
great, sons as warlike and hardy, and power much
greater. Their sure instinct taught them that a great
national object, like this, was not to be trusted to
the natural course of events — to the chapter of acci-
dents. They did not hesitate at once to realize their
grand conceptions in direct and stringent legislation.
They confined the whole coasting trade, and the whole
trade with the British Colonies and Plantations, to
They secured the importation of most articles, the
produce of Asia, Africa and America, to British ships.
And foreseeing that this wholesome provision might
be evaded by a previous importation into other parts
of Europe in foreign bottoms, they prohibited the im-
portation of Asiatic, African, and American produce
from Europe, not only in foreign, but even in British
ships. In a word, they took the most eff*ectual mea-
sures that British ships should supply the British
But with the discrimination which distinguishes the
legislation of true wisdom from the headlong legislation
of mere theory, they were not unmindful of the foreign
29 1< THE NAVIGATION LAWS.
trade of the country. They allowed foreign ships to
import the produce of their own respective countries.
Any foreign vessels infringing these regulations, was
with her whole cargo at once confiscated.
Having given the British shipowner these advantages
our fathers took good care that they should not be
merely private, but truly national advantages. They
obliged the ship-owner to use a British-built ship. They
would not allow him to navigate with an underpaid
foreign crew, but secured the maritime employment of
their own countrymen, by insisting that the owners,
masters, and three-fourths of the crew, should be
British subjects. No matter how suddenly a , war
might break out. While the raw maritime levies of
other countries were helpless and sea- sick, thousands,
and tens of thousands of skilful, well-fed, lion-hearted
British seamen of all ages, were thus, even in profound
peace, and without any expense, or danger to liberty,
kept ready for the defence of the country.
Let us hear what Adam Smith says of this maritime
code, so adverse to our modern notions.
After remarking that some of its regulations may
have proceeded from national animosity, he adds,
" They are as wise, however, as if they had all been
" dictated by the most deliberate wisdom.^' And
again : " As defence is of much more importance
"than opulence, the act of navigation is perhaps
the navigation laws. 295
'' the wisest of all the commercial regulations
The eminent success of this pohcy vindicated it in
Adam Smith's time ; its yet more triumphant success
has more fully justified it since. Through the muta-
tions of nearly two centuries it has steadily upheld
our maritime power, and the inviolability of our native
But we are not to be satisfied of the wisdom of a
course of action by its success. We must make trial
of its opposite. We must eat of the tree of the know-
ledge of good and evil. "Eat/' says the tempter, "ye
shall not surely die."
We are now told, that as in everything else, so in
ships, sailors and freights, we are to go to the cheapest
market. If the Norwegians can carry coals from New-
castle or Sunderland to London, cheaper than the Eng-
lish, the trade should on principle be surrendered to
them. If the Americans can find it profitable to in-
vade our British commerce with India, Jamaica, the
Cape of Good Hope, Australia or China, the trade
should be at once opened to them. If half- starved
Swedes or Norwegians can man our own vessels cheaper
than the beef-eating, ruddy English tar, his proper
place is not the night watch, or the top-mast, but
some other employment, (nobody knows what) and
* Wealth of Nations, Book 4, chap. 2.
296 THE NAVIGATION LAWS.
failing that, the workhouse. If ships can be built
cheaper in the ports of the United States, or of the
Baltic than at Sunderland, the English ship-building
trade should migrate thither. The strong will of our
fathers controlled circumstances; we surrender our-
selves to circumstances and theories, to be carried —
we know not whither.
In the last Session of Parliament, the Navigation
Laws were repealed. Precious in the sight of posterity
will be the names that resisted with all their might,
at all hazards, this suicidal measure. In the mean-
time, whatever betide, they have won the noblest of all
possessions, the consciousness of duty faithfully dis-
charged amidst misrepresentation and obloquy.
Let us now see what we have done.
To use the words of the late Mr. Cobbett on this
subject, we have " exhibited our surprising genius ^'
in pulling down the master-piece of British policy.
Nearly the whole of the Navigation Laws have been
The principle and basis of the new law is this ; Go to
the cheapest market for ships and sailors — never mind
whether English or foreign.
Accordingly as the bill originally stood, the very
coasting-trade itself, the coal-trade for example, be-
tween Newcastle, Blyth, or Sunderland and London,
was surrendered. If Swedes or Norwegians could (as
they can, and do) navigate more cheaply than we, then
THE NAVIGATION LAWS. 297
the pool below London bridge was to be filled with
sections of Swedish and Norwegian colliers, bringing
English coals from English ports.
This part of the bill was afterwards abandoned.. But
if the principle of the bill be good, the abandonment
of this part was indefensible. The alleged reason was,
that smuggling would be promoted by opening the
coasting-trade. But it is to be suspected that other
reasons operated. It was discovered that the A.mericans
would not open their coasting-trade. It was thought
that the enormous and unrequited sacrifice proposed by
the bill, might shock the public and damage the mea-
sure. Accordingly the axiom and basis of the new
measure, " Get your ships and your sailors where you
can get them cheapest," was violated. A monopoly of
the coasting and channel-trade was, and yet is left
to ships British built, British owned, and British
The Americans, with characteristic sagacity and
shrewdness, many years ago, copied our Navigation -
laws. The consequences following their enactment by
the United States have been just the same as with us,
— great maritime prosperity and power. It is not
even true that the Americans have recently relaxed
these laws. The reciprocity just extended to British
shipping, in return for our admission of American ves-
sels into our ports, is a provision of their old law.
And an excellent arrangement for them it turns out to
be. We let them into our foreign trade, and as they,
298 THE NAVIGATION LAWS.
they may safely do, let us into theirs : they having
no colonial trade, and their greatest and most increas-
ing trade being the trade between their own ports,
from which they entirely exclude us. But we, (over and
above a participation in our larger foreign trade,) and
without the shadow of an equivalent for this portion
of our concessions, let them into our East India trade,
into our West Indian trade, into our Australian trade,
into our trade with all our Colonies. Nay, the very
coasting trade of India and our Colonies, as well as
the trade between our Colonies, may be thrown open
to them. To see this bargain in its true light, the
whole dominions of Great Britain on the one hand,
should be considered as one empire, and the whole
dominions of the United States on the other, should
be considered as another empire. We give them a
participation in all the domestic carrying trade of our
empire, (except the mere coasting trade of the British
Islands,) — they give us in return no portion of the
domestic carrying trade of their vast empire. They
will not even allow us to carry from New York to San
Francisco, although, in so doing we must circumnavi-
gate Cape Horn and traverse half the globe. Nay,
even the reciprocity in the foreign trade is more advan-
tageous to them than to us, (supposing even that ships
could be built in Sunderland or Liverpool as cheaply
as in Maine, and that the Americans usurp the same
proportion of our foreign trade that we take of theirs,)
for our foreign trade is larger than theirs. They take
the same proportion of a larger quantity.
THE NAVIGATION LAWS. 299
All that we have obtained from the Americans is the
liberty of importing foreign produce and manufactures
into their ports. For example, we may now be the
means of facilitating the transport of French, Belgian
or German manufactures to compete with our own in
the American markets.
In return for this, we give the Americans the liberty
of bringing foreign produce and manufactures into
our ports. For example : An American vessel may
now bring into England European produce and manu-
factures from any German, French or Russian port.
This is all the reciprocity in the foreign trade. Its
real value remains to be seen.
In the colonial trade there is, as we have seen, no
reciprocity at all : we give everything and get nothing.
Let us examine, a little more in detail, what it is,
that we have given the Americans for nothing.
"We have let the Americans into our whole East
India trade. Henceforth we may expect to see Amer-
ican East Indiamen entering and leaving the Thames.
For this we have no return, no reciprocity.
The American ports on the Pacific now over-look
Australasia. We have let the Americans into our
trade with the vast continent of New Holland. Will
not the new gold mines induce the Americans to lay
on their steamers long before ours, and get and keep
the trade ?
We have let the Americans into our trade with
300 THE NAViaATION LAWS.
some other forty colonies. No return, no recipro-
The whole vast coasting trade of India, so capable
of unlimited extension was ours. It may now be
opened by the Governor General to the Americans, or
any foreign nation. Again no return, no recipro-
The whole coasting trade of the colonies, of the vast
shores of New Holland for example, was ours. Provi-
sion is made, that the caprice of the colonies, and of
the minister of the day, may open it all to the Ameri-
cans or any other nation. Again, no return, no
The trade from one British Colony or dependency
to another, which used to employ so many British
ships, and is capable of employing so many more, is
in like manner opened. Once more, no return, no
But it is understating the case to say that we have
let the Americans into the Indian and Colonial trade,
on the same terms as ourselves. We support the
Colonies. We are at all the expense — they at none.
We have therefore let them into the trade on much
better terms than we enjoy ourselves.*
But what is to be the effect of this change, in the
event of war ?
* Many of our most valuable possessions are already almost within
their jaws. The fierce democracy whose mouth now waters for Cuba,
may soon lick its lips for Jamaica.
THE NAVIGATION LAWS. 301
The Americans will know every harbour and sound-
ing — will have correspondents and friends in every
principal port. We have to divide our naval forces for
the defence of all our distant possessions — they may
concentrate theirs for the attack and certain acquisition
of any colony or dependency, whose value they may
have learnt from experience.
Such is the true nature of our arrangements with
our great and dangerous rival. No wonder that the
United States are ready enough to close with such
There are other and smaller maritime powers to
whom we have opened our foreign and colonial trade.
The observations already made as to the admission
of the Americans into the colonial trade, apply for the
most part to other powers. But, with respect to the
foreign trade, supposing perfect reciprocity, we offer
these smaller states the chance of usurping a share of
a very large trade, in return for our chance of usurping
the same proportion of a very small one. There is
not, in all Europe, any power which has anything like
an equivalent to offer us.
But there are several powers who can navigate far
cheaper than we, unless we are prepared to beat down
the food and wages of our sailors to the miserable
We have done yet more than all this. We have
302 THE NAVIGATION LAWS.
subjected the employment of our sailors even in our
protected trade to the caprice of the minister of the
day. For we have enabled him to issue the Queen's
Proclamation, admitting foreign seamen even to the
navigation of a British ship.
Such legislation is unprecedented. What has led
us to it ? The fanatical determination to carry out, at
all risks, a favourite theory. The maxim — " Buy in
the cheapest market.^^ A maxim which, even com-
mercially speaking, and with a view to the mere sordid
gain of the nation, we have seen to be altogether
It is said that a higher freight to British owners,
and higher wages to British sailors, are a tax on the
whole nation for the benefit of a class.
But freight is a very small ingredient in the cost
of most articles prepared for actual consumption ; and
the difference between British freight and foreign
freight, is again but a small fraction of that small in-
gredient. So that the nation as a whole, pay in the
aggregate but little, for giving a preference to British
ships and British sailors, and that little is moreover
comminuted and pulverised into infinitesimal particles.
But the nation as a whole, gains a great deal by em-
ploying British shipping and British sailors, instead of
foreign ones. It thus develops its own maritime pos-
sessions and strength. Wherever a British ship is built
instead of a foreign one, the whole gross value of that
THE NAVIGATION LAWS. 303
British-built ship (minus the difference between the price
of the two,) is a gain to the nation.* Wherever a vessel
is navigated by a British crew instead of a foreign crew,
the gross amount of the wages, minus the difference,
is British gain instead of foreign gain. Wherever
freight is paid to a British owner, navigating a British
ship with a British crew, instead of being paid to a
foreign owner, navigating a foreign ship with a foreign
crew, that freight, minus the difference, is British gain
instead of foreign gain.f By giving therefore the pre-
ference to British ships and sailors, the nation gains
very much and loses very little.
On the other hand, wherever a foreign ship is built
instead of a British one, the nation loses the gross
value of the British ship, minus the difference in price.
Wherever freight or wages are paid to a foreign crew
instead of a British crew, the nation loses the aggregate
amount, minus the difference. By employing foreign
ships and sailors in the place of British, the nation
loses very much and gains very little.
In a word, it is with ships, freight and wages, as
with corn, or cotton and wages. To employ British
industry is twice as profitable to the nation as to employ
foreign industry, minus the difference between the cost
of the two.
It is not therefore true that a higher price for British
ships, a higher freight to British owners, and higher
wages to British sailors, are a tax on the whole nation.
* See Chapters IV. V. and XXVIII. f Ibid.
304 THE NAVIGATION LAWS.
It is not only not true, but the converse proposition is
true. It is an actual and very great gain, to the nation
as a whole, to pay for British ships, British sailors, and
British freight. It is an actu al and verygreat gain,
though the nation should pay much more for them than
it really does.
But we have been hitherto speaking of the mere
sordid pecuniary gain. We have not alluded to the
gain of keeping on the deep tens of thousands of
British tars, the true defenders of their native isle, in
the constant exercise of their healthy, hardy, perilous
vocation. In peace costing nothing, incapable of being
corrupted by idleness, or perverted by ambition ; yet
always ready at the first blast of the trumpet to climb
your first-rates, and make every foreign heart quake
with your thunder.
Again we understate the case. This great naval
reserve is kept afloat not merely for nothing, but for
less than nothing. The mercantile navy, it cannot be
too often repeated, is not only not a source of loss, but
a source of enormous gain.
But the most frightful view of what we have done,
remains to be considered..
The blackest horrors of war are seen in a populous
and blockaded city. Incomparably more awful would
be the famine of an island swarming with people,
dependent on foreign supplies of food, but beleagured
by superior naval forces.
THE NAVIGATION LAWS. 305
Such a catastrophe has hitherto been impossible^ for
First, we were not dependent on foreign supplies of
food. Till very recent times we produced enough for
our own consumption, and in the last century a great
Secondly, our military and commercial marine,
(owing chiefly to the navigation laws) has been so
large, as at all times not only to supply a cheap and
efi'ectual defence, but to sweep the sea.
Thirdly. No other power, either separately or com-
bined possessed any naval strength comparable to ours.
All these three things are now changed.
First, we have become (and in a great measure sud-
denly) dependent on foreign countries, for large sup-
plies of corn, to say nothing of sugar and cotton. It
has been said that we draw, or shall soon draw, nearly
a fourth of our supply of food from abroad. The sud-
den and forcible withdrawal of that proportion would
instantly cause famine prices, — prices ten times, twenty
times as high as at present. Such prices, frightful as
they are, are yet but the heralds of actual famine.
Secondly. We have now, at the very crisis when
we have begun to require this increased supply, repealed
our navigation laws, and reduced our military marine.
The eff'ect of the repeal will be (there is too much
reason to fear) highly injurious, if not destructive to
British shipping. The best that can be said of the
experiment is, that its results are untried and unknown.
306 THE NAVIGATION LAWS.
We are calling out for still further reductions in our
Royal Navy. Already it is no longer such an effectual
defence, as our altered circumstances and vast posses-
sions might suddenly require.
Thirdly. The marine of France, of Russia, and of
the United States, are now, each of them, formidable
rivals. Combined, they are already our actual su-
It is said, that it would be as inconvenient to the
exporting countries to withhold their supplies, as it
would be for us to forego them. Alas ! these are the
dreams of men of peace. The answer is, first. It would
not. Which is the greatest evil, famine or a tempo-
rary superfluity ? One is death, the other but trans-
ient inconvenience. The animosity and evil passions
of war have often and joyfully endured a temporary and
partial inconvenience, to consummate the final ruin of
an ancient and haughty enemy. Next the attacking
and beleaguering powers may be those who have the
least interest in the commercial question ; but who in
intercepting supplies of food from neutral parties, may
have not only superior force, but public law on their
EMIGRATION AND COLONIZATION. 307
" Labour should he left to floiu in its own natural
Of all the idols worshipped by the let-alone supersti-
tion, this is perhaps the Moloch. Never before were
human sacrifices offered up on so vast a scale.
We have already seen that the channels in which both
capital and labour, when left to themselves, may chance
by accident to flow, are not necessarily the most advan-
tageous. That both capital and labour may be (and
often have been) artificially diverted into channels ten
times, twenty times, a hundred times as advantageous
to the whole nation. Just as many a river, which left
to itself, spreads and stagnates in shallow and pesti-
lential marshes and lagoons, may have its course or
its levels artificially altered and improved, so as to
irrigate whole countries, and feed great nations, or
bear their commerce on its deep and ample bosom.
But what we propose here to consider is, the distri-
bution of the population itself. Will it naturally
distribute itself in the most advantageous manner ?
Reader ! have you ever seen a map of England
308 EMIGRATION AND COLONIZATION.
shaded according to the density of the population ?
Middlesex, Lancashire, the West Riding of Yorkshire,
a portion of South Wales, and a few other places are
almost black. But the residue of the kingdom is either
slightly shaded, or almost white. This map shews the
English population to be, not so much large, as con-
Let things alone, and the fatal congestion is aggra-
vated. The recent returns shew that the population
of our largest towns grows, but the rural population
decays. Men are more and more driven from their
natural, virtuous, and healthy calling in the open air —
the subjugation, fertilization, and culture of the soil.
They encourage foreigners to cultivate foreign soils,
but are themselves driven to herd promiscuously, like
beasts, in the cellars of Liverpool, the garrets of St.
Giles's, the Wynds of Glasgow, the victims and parents
of idleness, disease, want, filth, vice, and irreligion.
No sanitary measures, no education, no schools, no
churches, will ever stop the progress of evils like these.
You might as well attempt to stop a hundred-and-
twenty gun ship in full sail, with a bit of pack-thread.
There is but one remedy. Kestore these really exiled
children of the land to their natural condition and
occupation. Plant them on the soil. This is the only
true and solid sanitary improvement. Then indeed, and
not till then, will what is now the refuse and sewerage
of your cities really fertilize the land. In the United
Kingdom alone, the room is ample. There are mil-
EMIGRATION AND COLONIZATION. 309
lions of British and Irish acres waste and sterile for
want of the fertilizing human animal ; there are hun-
dreds of thousands gasping for their natural element.
There is a system of railways ready to bring together
man and the land, so useless apart, so fruitful together ;
a union which is the aim and end of all true political
economy. Not only might the rights of landed pro-
perty be religiously respected, but the value of it
quadrupled. Public power is there, but public wisdom
stands by manacled and hand-cuffed by the let-alone
superstition. Seven or eight years ago the densest
rural population was to be found in Ireland. Yet some
of the most intelligent and best-informed witnesses
examined under Lord Devours Commission, were no
advocates for emigration, proclaiming their opinion
even then to be, that there was not a man too many,
even in Ireland. We have seen that practical men
declare, that even Ireland might with ease, feed and
employ two and a half times her late population. And
if the producing forces of Great Britain and Ireland
were properly developed, the number of the really un-
employed anywhere, would be very small. To em-
ploy or plant the small surplus on the land, would
be a work of no difficulty, — many times more advan-
tageous both to the poor and to the country, than
to export them, even to the Colonies. They would
still further develop the producing power of the king-
dom, as much as if they augmented its surface. Then
indeed, education and religion might have their perfect
310 EMIGRATION AND COLONIZATION.
work. But the fertilizing stream will never of itself
reach the waste. Emancipated public wisdom must
direct it. Government must stretch out its arm to
save. Practical men may sneer,- — men that have no
conception of the magnitude of these portentous and
accumulating evils — and of the new, but powerful
machinery that can and will effectually grapple with
them. And we have here precedent to guide us. A
government that we look down on as blind and des-
potic, has done it already, — and done it with a scrupu-
lous regard to the rights of property. The Prussian
government already has actually planted the pauper
over its soil, and transformed him into the most in-
dustrious and happy of mankind.
But some think there is a real excess of population
in the British Isles.
Perhaps the truth may be, that there is now an
actual excess as compared with present means of em-
ployment ; but not one pair of hands, or one mouth too
many, compared with those means of employment and
support, which a few months would present, both in
Great Britain and Ireland, when both nations, aban-
doning barren, cosmopolitan theories shall seriously
address themselves to the development of their own
But suppose there is a real and not a mere apparent
excess. Then imagine a population map of the British
Empire. What does it present ? a few spots of popu-
lation in a boundless field, white, not only with unoc-
cupied but with fertile land.
EMIGRATION AND COLONIZATION. 81 1
But for this fatal maxim of the wretched let-alone
delusion, public wisdom might long ago have vigorously
availed itself of these unparalleled resources. Instead
of the human hash rotting and fermenting in London,
Liverpool, and Glasgow, why should not those natural
help-mates, man and the land, have been brought
together on a grand scale ? Why not plant the first
of races, on the best and amplest of soils ? A new
and peaceful conquest entailing no ultimate expense,
but bringing infinite gain, exhibiting to all nations a
new sort of subjugation.
But how has our population gone forth ?
Helter-skelter, nobody cares who, nor why, nor how,
nor whence, nor whither. Those we can least spare
are gone, leaving behind those that ought to go. It
has been asserted that from Ireland alone, small far-
mers have gone, who have taken out more property
with them than would pay for the estates hitherto sold
under the Encumbered Estates Act. From England
and Scotland, it is the industrious and enterprizing that
go. Why are such multitudes from all parts of the
United Kingdom going? Emigration should at all
events be voluntary. It is not so. The furies of want,
misery, and despair, scourge the emigrants from our
shores. How do they go ? huddled together in im-
proper or ill-found vessels ; during the voyage exposed
to the merciless cupidity of private enterprize ; on land-
ing^ cruelly abandoned to their fate. The very pro-
portion of the sexes, which nature so sedulously
313 EMIGRATION AND COLONIZATION.
watches, is disturbed. The last census shews a sad
disproportionate increase of women at home, while we
have whole Colonies depraved and depopulated for
want of them. Amidst all this, the dregs of popu-
lation, the vicious and wretched outcasts of our great
cities remain behind.
And whither do our countrymen go ? Except a
very few, not to our Colonies at all. They go to the
United States. If we have a calf or a sheep more
than we had, we congratulate ourselves ; but our price-
less human organization we throw away to our great
rival. Our emigrants not only augment the wealth
and power of America, but they actually increase the
chances of future, fearful hostilities. The Irish carry
with them, and propagate a deadly and inextinguish-
able hatred of England.
Such is colonization under the let-alone system.
What might it be ?
In such restricted limits we must either deal in
general observations (which will deserve still less at-
tention), or must exemplify what we mean by a parti-
Let us take one. Emigration to our nearest British
Province in North America.
Our own Halifax (one of the greatest cities of the world,
but yet in embryo,) is at once the nearest American
port, and perhaps the most commodious and spacious
harbour on the surface of the globe. We have not yet
EMIGRATION AND COLONIZATION. 313
seen those immense 'steam-ships, those " ocean-omni-
buses," which will ere long, traverse the sea and distri-
bute and plant nations. One of the most eminent prac-
tical engineers and builders of nautical steam-engines in
Europe, Mr. Penn of Greenwich, has recently pledged
his professional reputation '' that an Ocean Steam
Emigrant Ship can be constructed, capable of convey-
ing TWO THOUSAND PEOPLE, and maintaining an ave-
rage speed of at least sixteen nautical miles an hour,
between Ireland and Halifax." This new ferry will
bring Ireland within five days and a half of Halifax.
And although steerage passengers may be carried
out at a few shillings a head, yet speed and economy
are only two of the advantages. The space, the com-
fort on the voyage, and the comparative exemption
from sea-sickness, will change the very nature of the
It is satisfactorily established that a railway of 635
miles, from Halifax to Quebec, in a healthy climate,
through British territory, rich not only in fertile land,
but in coal, and other mineral resources, might be easily
and cheaply made. The Canadian legislature have
voted money towards the work, and it is begun.
Here, in New Brunswick alone, is a field on which the
supposed surplus population of the United Kingdom
might disgorge itself. But arrived at Quebec, the emi-
grants find themselves on the bosom of the St. Law-
rence, and in communication with all the magnificent
lakes, or rather inland seas of North America.
314 EMIGRA.TION AND COLONIZATION.
Then it is said, the emigrants will still go to the
States. That entirely depends on this, — whether you
care for them, or rather for yourselves, when they
land, — or whether you still, on the let-alone theory,
abandon them to wander or perish.
In the United States they can get employment, and
buy land at a dollar an acre. But they might have
both within a week's journey of their native country.
Ingenious people have conceived the notion of trans-
planting to the Colonies, an old community ready-
made ; setting it up as they w^ould a ready-made wood
or iron house. They must have parson and squire, and
landlord and tenant, shopkeeper, journeyman, apprentice,
and labourer in Australia, or in the American forest, just
as they have in a village of Yorkshire or Devonshire.
Of course, where land is in plenty, all the labourers,
journeymen, and apprentices run away, and all the
tenants too. All would fain cultivate their own
land with their oivn hands, without being obliged to
pay either rent or wages, and leave the squire and the
landlord to do the same. But is this irresistible natural
tendency in iiew countries to the creation of an
industrious yeomanry an evil? Quite the contrary.
Only it requires, like every thing else, some artificial
Don't spurn the first gift of nature — cheap land.
Bring down the government price of your colonial
lands everywhere, to the American standard of a dollar
an acre, and then take measures which will soon make
EMIGRATION AND COLONIZATION. djD
them worth five pounds an acre to the purchaser.
What are those measures ? Why is land in Yorkshire
worth so much more than land in New Brunswick or
Canada? Among other reasons for this reason : in
Yorkshire the occupier is surrounded with neighbours.
In New Brunswick or Canada he lives in a solitude.
His next neighbour is perhaps twenty miles off. The
nearest church forty miles away. What is wanting is
the presence of resident occupiers all around him. Then
the awful solitude of the forest is cheered by the
human face divine, and the music of the human voice.
Then there is fertilization, society, mutual help, friend-
ship, churches, schools, roads, commerce.
How is this state of things to be brought about ?
We have seen that the natural tendency of new coun-
tries in temperate regions, is to the creation of a class
of small proprietors, cultivating small occupations with
their own hands. On this fact two measures might be
First, all allotments might be restricted to such a
quantity of land as a man and his family can reason-
ably be expected to cultivate with their own hands.
Secondly, the actual residence of the proprietor on
his allotment might be a condition. If he will neither
reside, nor sell to him that will, non-residence must be
a ground of forfeiture, or escheat to the crown.
Large grants of unoccupied lands, must, under no
pretext whatever, be permitted. Thus the complete
subjugation and permanent improvement of the land,
316 EMIGRATION AND COLONIZATION.
will be married from the very first, to tlie comforts and
helps of neighbourhood, to the elevating influences of
Under such regulations the phalanx will gradually,
but certainly, march to universal dominion over the
But we have, and are likely to have, criminal emi-
The increase of crime in Great Britain is now truly
frightful. In vain do you build penitentiaries, and
inflict the barbarous torture of solitary confinement ;
an exquisite cruelty worthy of the darkest ages. It
has not even the excuse of being exemplary. It does
not deter others. For they that have not endured it
can but darkly guess its severity, from the physical and
mental ruin, that it entails on the miserable sufferers.
And do your English criminals deserve all this?
Crimes in England are chiefly crimes against property.
When judge and criminal shall hereafter be both
arraigned together, before that merciful but all-discern-
ing and perfect justice, which looking into the heart,
makes all just allowances for involuntary ignorance,
and the irresistible pressure of temptation or want,
which will appear the most advantageous apparel, the
rags, or the scarlet and ermine robe ?
But the criminal, (though in the eye of reason less
a criminal than is commonly supposed,) must, in the
mean time, be punished. Your pretended prison disci-
EMIGRATION AND COLONIZATION. 317
pline will destroy him. Australia and the Cape will
not have him. Here is the Halifax and Quebec rail-
way close at hand asking for his labor, and when that
is done, you may go on, if you like, to the Pacific
Ocean. Asa Whitney has demonstrated that your
railway thither need not cost a farthing, even although
you should not have the advantage of this slave-labor.
That labor may be made as penal as you please. But
in the mean time it is useful. Above all it is truly
reformatory. What becomes of the miserable outcast
that issues from your English dungeons ? Which has
branded him deepest, his sin or his jail? But in
New Brunswick, the convict, after suffering his pun-
ishment, is on the high road to vast tracts where he
may ultimately settle, without objection by any one,
and be surrounded, not with every hindrance, but with
every help to becoming an honest man, and a valuable
All this is a faint and partial outline of what an
English colony can do for us. Let some abler hand
fill up the picture. And then it is only one of a large
318 COMPETITION AND CO-OPERATION.
^^ The value of every thing must now he settled hy
universal and unregulated competition."
So say the modern free-traders.
' No ! ^ say the socialists, *■ Competition is all wrong :
Look at the miseries it produces. Co-operation is to
be the panacea.'
Both these new sects however, would fain persuade us
that the w^orldand human life is henceforth to be some-
thing different and very superior to what it has always
been. Both seem to forget, that we have been in a high
state of civilization for three or four hundred years.
Neither bear in mind, that a large portion of evil, pri-
vate and social, is the inseparable and perpetual ac-
companiment of our imperfect nature. Both liken the
beneficent and universal Parent to a capricious and
unnatural father, who, having neglected his first-born
children, should unjustly favour his younger offspring.
Both represent human life as a feast, at which there is
a succession of guests : but the generations that sat
down first found a scanty and miserable board, while
plenty of substantial and invigorating viands were kept
back for those who should sit down last.
COMPETITION AND CO-OPERATION. 319
Many think Paley^s view much nearer the truth.
That human hfe and the world is a system of compen-
sations. That, if we are better off than our fathers, in
some things, they were better off than we in others.
Or, if some of us are better off than they, others of us
are worse off. Take this vast metropoHs. The in-
habitants indeed of Belgravia or Tyburnia may perhaps
enjoy life more than the Saxons, who lived on the
banks of the Thames, under King Harold. But, after
surveying their sumptuous tables and gilded cielings,
you must make a huge deduction for the cares, the
ambition, the restlessness, the dyspepsia, the insup-
portable ennui, the gloomy scepticism, even of these
spoilt children of fortune. What say you, however, to
the imperfect physical development, and wan faces,
that issue in multitudinous, but filthy and ragged
swarms from the human styes of St. Giles's, Spitalfields,
Whitechapel, Bethnal Green, and even Westminster ?
Which drank in most joy from 'the common air, the
earth, the skies,' they or their Saxon predecessors ?
Nobody denies, or doubts the progress of physical
science. But the question is, are the masses of man-
kind certainly better or happier, or (all things con-
sidered,) much about the same ?
There are gloomy people who are apt to conclude,
that while human nature remains what it is, the dis-
tribution of good and evil will remain pretty much
what it has been. All men of sense agree, at least.
320 COMPETITION AND CO-OPERATION.
in this, that the motives and incentives of human action
are ever the same.
And here the free-traders have the advantage of the
socialists. Private property, individual interest, and
competition, have been the only adequate incentives to
voluntary labour, from the first page of recorded time.
No other can be substituted. Mankind at large, will
never submit to hard vrork from mere patriotism or
benevolence, or even a sense of moral duty. These are
not, v^ith the masses, the actual springs of severe and
incessant toil, though they are, or ought to be, the
regulators of the motive force.
In a large association of a thousand, or five hundred,
or even fifty families of working men, you dilute self-
interest till it is no stimulus at all. The complicated
afi'airs of such a partnership soon become a fruitful
source of dispute. Idleness and dissensions, ultimate
failure and dissolution, are before them all. They may
succeed, when they have a new human nature to work
But, though the socialists have no solid reply to these
objections of the free-traders, they can nevertheless
retort with terrible efi'ect.
' Look,' says the disciple of Louis Blanc, ' at the
resplendent gold and silver tissue, which I am weaving ;
and then look at my rags. Your fierce competition is
doing the same everywhere. The cheapest and worst
paid workman in the whole world must beat all the
rest. That is the standard at which your system aims.
COMPETITION AND CO-OPERATION. 321
You establish a deadly struggle who shall descend
first to the lowest level. You will deteriorate and
brutalize the masses of mankind.^
Here the socialist has the free-trader on the hip.
But the practical man sees, that the objections of
the socialists to that wild and unregulated competition,
which the free-traders introduce, are no objections at
all to a competition duly regulated. Competition, like
the great physical forces of nature, is, when left to
itself, destructive and devastating; but guided and
restrained by human art, it is an instrument of human
happiness, as mighty, but as harmless and docile as
the steam-engine itself.
First, take as the field for free and unregulated ex-
changes, a geographical or political division of the
earth, affording an area large enough for that division
of labour, which is an indispensable pre-requisite to
easy and plentiful production. But when you have
done that, another and greater care remains behind —
the care that, notwithstanding competition, the labourer
shall get his fair share. Leave things alone, and in
old countries he will not get his fair share. Sad and
universal experience demonstrates it. Expose him to
competition with all the earth, and you make bad
worse. Regulations are possible which will ensure his
getting it. Those regulations will, as we have seen,
be as beneficial to the masters, and to the community,
as to the workmen themselves.
322 COMPETITION AND CO-OPERATtON.
But there will be misery still ! Freely granted. It
is, as we have seen, and as we all know too well, the
sad condition of human nature. But whatever our
speculative opinions as to the past or luture progress
of mankind, one thing is plain. Knowledge and
progress are not for those, who sit still and leave things
to take their own course. Wherever they are vouch-
safed, they are the reward of humble labour and dili-
gence to attain them, — of anxious thought, repeated
trials, and indefatigable perseverance.
The true mode of using, guiding, and restraining
competition, is a new field of knowledge which will
well repay the labour of exploring and cultivating.
SMALL ESTATES. 323
" Fay^ming should he carried on like any other trade."
Yeomen living on their own small properties, were for-
merly tlie principal cultivators in England and Wales.
With no outgoing for rent, and none for wages, (except
to a farm laborer or two, living in the farm-house, on
the farm produce,) the well-grown, robust and ruddy
English yeoman, was the most independent of man-
kind. Such was the English subject of Charles I.
Stupendous revolutions and changes of all sorts, mat-
tered little to him.
Unhappily the race is now almost extinct, — large
estates and large farms have absorbed them. We are
now told that farming must be carried on like every
other trade ; that large farms, like large cotton-mills,
large iron works, or blast-furnaces, can produce
cheaper than small ones, and therefore, very properly
supersede and obliterate them.
Let us assume that to produce cheap is the chief
end of man. Let us concede at once, that virtue,
health, happiness, domestic plenty and content, are
not to be measured against one degree in the descend-
ing scale of cheapness.
324 SMALL ESTATES
Can the large farmer produce more or cheaper than
the small one ? A question on which the learned in
these matters, are not agreed. La petite culture has
its well-instructed partisans, as well as la grande
culture, not only in England, but much more in France,
Prussia, Belgium, Holland, Norway, Denmark, Switz-
erland, Northern Italy, and the Tyrol.
We do not pretend to knowledge sufficient to form
an opinion, where Mr. Mill decides one way, and Mr.
McCulloch the other. We only venture to remind
the reader of some considerations, which may induce
him to pause before he makes up his mind.
Suppose a farm of a thousand acres in the hands of
a single occupier. There is one occupying resident
family, one homestead and farm-yard, one garden,
one set of cows and oxen, one team of horses, one flock
of sheep, one set of pigs, one yard of poultry, one
manufactory of manure. Most of these, doubtless, on
a larger scale than in a small farm. But suppose that
same farm of thousand acres divided into twenty farms
of fifty acres each. You have now twenty occupying
resident families, twenty homesteads and farm-yards,
twenty gardens, twenty sets of cows and oxen, twenty
teams of horses, twenty flocks of sheep, twenty sets of
pigs, twenty yards of poultry, twenty manufactories of
manure. If a proper tenure exist, so as to secure to
the occupier what he ought to have, the full and ex-
clusive reward of his own industry, you have every
AND OCCUPYIVG OWNERS. 325
square yard of land under the eye of practical skill,
unwearied vigilance, intense thrift, and unremitting
labor. The wife, the sons, even the daughters, of the
farmer, uncorrupted by the expensive habits and vicious
pursuits of the town, find their pleasure in rustic toil.
The daughters assist the mother in the care of the
cows, the dairy, the poultry, the garden, and even the
lighter but healthy and agreeable labour of the field.
The sons help their father in digging, ploughing, ditch-
ing, draining, sowing, weeding, irrigating, picking up
stones and rubbish, repairing the farm buildings. The
land has become the true, safe and liberal savings
Bank ; where every half-hour of voluntary and gra-
tuitous labor is put out at large interest. Cheap but
effectual contrivances retain every particle and drop of
manure. Carefully mixed and preserved, it is used and
spread with a special reference to the wants and capa-
bilities of every square inch of ground. The gratuitous
labor lavished on the farm can, either alone or in con-
cert with neighbours, undertake permanent improve-
ments ruinous and impossible to the farmer who has
to hire his workmen. The peasant proprietors of Lan-
guedoc push cultivation to the mountain-top by carry-
ing up the earth in baskets on their shoulders. In our
damp northern climate the land wants drainage. In
the sunny south it wants irrigation. See the concerted
system of irrigation and the miles of water-meadows
created by the combined labours of peasant-proprietors,
in the French departments of the Vaucluse, and Rou-
326 SMALL ESTATES
ches du niionej in Lombardy, Tuscany, Piedmont,
Sienna, Lucca, and Bergamo, nay, even in the plain of
Valencia in the west of Spain. So, extensive practical
systems of thorough drainage, inspired by the same
energetic motives, and using the same cheap^ but in-
vincible means, would not only improve the best lands,
but reclaim bogs and morasses in England, Scotland
* A mere picture of the imagination ! ' cries the
practical man. He never was more mistaken. Every
lineament of the peasant proprietor here sketched is
drawn from the life.* You will find him at this hour just
as we have described him, all over Holland, Belgium,
* As a synopsis of authorities on this subject, and for the result of
personal observation, the reader is referred to a valuable book recently
published, " The social condition and education of the people in England
and Europe," by Joseph Kaye, Esq., London, 1850. But, however just
Mr. Kaye's views of the advantages of the continental tenures, and the
mischief of the English ones maybe, he seems to expect far too much
from a mere abolition of the law of primogeniture in England. Neither
i he correct in assuming that continental titles are ahvays so simple.
The fact in France at least is far otherwise. Indeed, the introduction of
the Code Napoleon, advantageous as it has been in making the law uni-
form throughout France, has had vevj little effect in simplifying the French
law. There are arising continually legal questions, which require three
different states of the French law to be examined and understood — the
ancient — the intermediate— and the existing legislation. Not to mention
the new questions of construction that arise on the code. Such is the im-
perfection of human language, and such the subtilty of human affairs,
that you cannot pen a document of five lines without raising questions of
construction. Mr. Mill's observations on Peasant Proprietors, are emi-
nently deserving of attention.
AND OCCUPYING OWNERS. 327
Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, the Tyrol, in Northern
Italy, and in many parts .of Germany and France.
Take for example, the banks of the Rhine. Forty
years ago these lands were half cultivated, by vei'y poor
and wretched farmers at very low rents. Stein and
Hardenberg, the great Prussian ministers, planted the
peasant on the soil. Now, the banks of the Rhine are
cultivated like a garden ; the value of property there
has wonderfully risen, the number of horses, cov/s, and
oxen, sheep and pigs is greatly increased.
Nor need you fear the exhaustion of the land. The
more you cultivate it in this way, the richer and more
grateful it is found to be. In Belgium and the low
countries, fertile and inexhaustible soils have thus been
created. The residence and labour of man has trans-
muted sand into gold.
Suppose England, Scotland, and Ireland thus culti-
vated, the plenty of wheat, barley, oats, beans, peas,
rye, hay, flax, oxen, cows, sheep, wool, poultry, eggs,
garden stuff and fruit would, we are assured, nourish
more than three times the present population. The
main producing forces of a country are man and the
land; bring them together, and you develop an all-
sufficing, superabounding plenty.
And would not food be cheap when most of the
labour would be gratuitous ? Where peasant proprietors
exist, there is not only little or nothing to pay for
wages, but nothing at all to pay for rent.
328 SMALL ESTATES
Hitherto we have looked merely at cheapness. But
not only is the earth changed and improved by man's
residence and labour upon it : man himself is regener-
ated and saved by being restored to his original and
The wan, sickly, degraded, restless, dangerous
population of the towns are transformed into the well-
grown, healthy, virtuous, industrious and conservative
cultivators of land. We are assured that it is the
general diffusion of property in land that has mitigated
the horrors of the late political convulsions on the
But then, it is said, granting that small farms
should produce more than large ones ; yet they con-
sume more. Such multitudes live on the land. Granted.
But this is exactly what is politically, as well as econo-
mically desirable, that consumers as well as producers,
should be less congregated in large cities and more
diffused over the country.
Without venturing to assert therefore, that cultiva-
tion by small farms is always more advantageous than
by large ones, we may safely conclude that it is often
as advantageous and sometimes more so. We may
safely affirm that it ought at least to have its place.
Why should not both systems of cultivation exist ?
Why should not their mutual emulation and rivalry
side by side, enable us satisfactorily to solve the pro-
blem, which of the two is the most productive ? And
AND OCCUPYING OWNERS. 329
when the eye wanders over the vast extent of unculti-
vated land in the United Kingdom, and the vast mul-
titudes of unemployed people, we cannot be vsTong in
holding that there is here as ample opportunity of in-
troducing cultivation by the occupying owner himself,
as ever Stein and Hardenberg found in Prussia.
But how is it to be done ? How are small-occupy-
ing, or peasant proprietors to be introduced with a
scrupulous regard to the rights of property. For if
you once violate property, there is an end of all stimulus
to labour, and of all plenty and prosperity.
How is the tendency of landed property to accumu-
late in few hands to be met ?
Persons unacquainted with the law, spend their lives
from infancy to age crying, — " abolish the law of entail
This remedy is no remedy at all. It would not
have the least effect. As primogeniture and entail are
not the causes of the aggregation of property in a few
hands, so the abolition of these laws to-morrow would,
leave the evil intact. Much more efficacious remedies
Let us examine these obnoxious laws of entail and
primogeniture, throwing aside as much as possible, all
technical terms. And first, of the law of entail.
An estate is said in popular language to be entailed,
when it is settled by deed or will on a man and his
330 SMALL ESTATES
lineal descendants. According to the ancient common
law, the course of descent prescribed by the donor
could not be interrupted, and the estate became inalien-
able. But now for several centuries, it has been in
the power of every tenant in tail, by certain assurances
called fines and recoveries, to destroy the entail, and
expand the estate into a fee-simple, alienable, like any
other fee-simple. Of late years these antiquated and
circuitous modes of destroying entails, have been
superseded by the statutory introduction of a more
simple form of conveyance. Any tenant in tail may
now destroy the estate tail, and convert it into a com-
mon fee-simple, by a deed merely. It is in vain that
you settle on a man an estate tail ; he can destroy it to-
moiTOW. All you can effectually do, is to give him an
estate for his own life, or the life of some other person
Estates are kept in families, not by the law of entail,
but by the power which exists of creating life estates.
A nobleman or wealthy commoner has an estate tail.
He could bar it, nothing prevents him. But what he
does in practice, and what he would equally do (though
in a different form,) were there no such estate known
to the law as an estate tail, is this : On his marriage
he limits to himself an estate for life, with a remainder
to the children of the maiTiage successively. He be-
comes tenant for life, his son tenant in remainder.
As soon as the eldest son becomes of age, he can make
away with his interest, just as his father could before
AND OCCUPYING OWNERS. 331
him ; or father and son may join, and sometimes do
join, in aliening the estate altogether. But in practice
the more usual course is this : The son is about to
marry, and is advised or chooses to settle a life-estate
on himself, and to provide, after his death, for his wife
and the issue of the marriage. He re-settles the estate.
Perhaps the son wants a maintenance during his father's
life, the father grants it out of his estate in possession;
the father on his part wants to raise money on the
estate, as he could have done had he retained the fee-
tail or fee-simple, and the son in return allows the
father to charge the estate. And so in fact estates are
kept together and re-settled every generation, by the
voluntary act, or, if you please, the family pride of
their ovv'ners, and not by the law of entail. Suppose
the law of entail abolished to-morrow, the very same
arrangements substantially, might be and would be
made, although the machinery would be somewhat
Indeed, personal property may be settled by means
of life estates as effectually as landed property, and the
fund may be, and often is, tied up just as long; although
such a thing as an estate tail in personal property, never
existed at any period of our law.
It is clear therefore that the law of entail does not
cause the accumulation of landed property in few hands,
and that it would exist, and exist to the same extent,
were the law of entail abolished.
333 SMALL ESTATES
Is it the law of primogeniture ?
As a general rule, freehold or copyhold land, in the
absence of a will or settlement, descends to the eldest
son. But it may be devised by will among all the chil-
dren, or to any stranger, or it may be settled or charged
in the life-time of the owner. It is only where there is
the accident of intestacy, that the law of primogeniture
operates at all. In one county of England, Kent, and
in some other places, land, in the event of intestacy,
by the custom of Gavelkind there prevailing, goes to
all the children equally. Yet the aggregation of landed
property in few hands is not, that I am aware of,
materially less in Kent than elsewhere.
The tenure of large masses of very valuable property
is leasehold. In the event of intestacy, leasehold pro-
perty is distributed amongst the next of kin. But as
it is the subject of devise and settlement, it is rarely
left to be so distributed.
So that where the law of primogeniture does not
exist, the distribution of property is much the same as
where it does. Practically, therefore, the law of primo-
geniture has little or no operation in producing an
aggregation of landed property in few hands.
The real sources of the existence of large landed
proprietors are these four : First, the natural aristo-
cratic feelings of the English nation, prompting every
successful man to endeavour to found a family, and
every head of an old family to do his utmost to per-
AND OCCUPYING OWNERS. 333
petuate and preserve it : Secondly, the liberty which
the law allows of creating life-estates : Thirdly, the
unlimited power of devising : Fourthly, the unlimited
power of settling and charging. A bit of land once
drawn within the charmed circle of a settled estate, is
practically taken out of the market.
Whether the aristocratic tendency of the English
nation be an evil or not, is a question on which men
will think differently, according to their political bias,
and this is not the place to discuss it. But those who
have maturely reflected on the immense stimulus which
it supplies for exertion, and on the materials which it
affords for stable government (on which all prosperity
and public and private credit depend) will be very slow
to pronounce that it is an evil. But evil or no evil, the
aristocratic element exists every where in England, not
in the House of Peers only, but is latent in the bosom of
the humble peasant. It is universal and ineradicable.
This feeling avails itself of the power to create life-
estates, and of the power to devise, and settle.
Will you have the law, then, interfere further than
it has already done, and prohibit life-estates ? Is a
man not to be allowed to settle an estate or an income
on his wife or child for life, or to retain an estate for
his own life ? Is he not to bequeath his property as
he pleases ? Such an intermeddling with the dispo-
sition of private property, would in this country be
considered vexatious and intolerable.
It is not uncommon to hear persons abusing the law.
334 SMALL ESTATES
as if by some artificial arrangement it created and per-
petuated large hereditary estates. Thoughtless, but
ill-informed partisans of the let alone system, cry,
Why does an artificial system of law raise up such
abuses ? Whereas the abuse, if such it be, is the act
of an individual doing as he will with his own ; and the
accomplishment of their wishes, so far from requiring
less, would require more interference on the part of
The law has already actively interfered to a consider-
able extent, to keep land in the market.
It has imposed great restraints on the acquisition of
property by corporate bodies.
It has prohibited the tying up of any property by
natural persons, and the keeping the fee simple out of
the market, for a period beyond a life, or lives in being,
and twenty-one years after, to allow for the possible
incapacity of infancy. So jealous is the law of suffer-
ing a perpetuity, that every provision in a deed or will
attempting to infringe or evade this salutary rule, is
absolutely void. In effect the law is, that you cannot
do more than create a life-estate. You cannot tie up
your property, real or personal, beyond a life or lives
The law has even prohibited trusts for accumulation
beyond certain limits.
But with these exceptions it has allowed the most
perfect liberty of dealing with property of every des-
cription, real and personal.
AND OCCUPYING OWNERS. 335
This perfect liberty^ coinciding with a minute sub-
division of estates and interests, necessarily existing in
a highly advanced state of society, has, like every other
human good, its attendant evils. Titles are complex,
alienation difficult and expensive.
The true remedies for these evils, so far as they are
remediable, are very different from the abolition of the
laws of Primogeniture and Entail.
Let us see, however, whether such remedies are not
possible. Remedies that would not only be ultimately
effectual, but immediate in their operation.
But if these measures are to bear any really good
fruit, several cautions are to be observed.
First, it must be borne in mind what a complicate'/
system the law of real property in England actually
and to a great extent necessarily, is. Four or five
years hard study will enable a good head to acquire far
more knowledge in pure and mixed mathematics, than
ever Sir Isaac Newton possessed. But four or five
years study of this single branch of the law of Eng-
land, will only produce a novice. A proprietor or
purchaser who should act on the advice of such a tyro,
w'ould run an imminent risk of losing his estate or his
money. But if the aid of profound learning and expe-
rience be essential when you are going to settle or pur-
chase, much more essential is it, when you are going to
alter the law. Hasty and passionate alterations only
make confusion worse confounded. Disappointment dis-
336 SMALL ESTATES
gusts a whole generation, and in despair they bequeath
the evil in an aggravated shape to their successors. We
have been amending and simplifying the law of real
property for twenty years. An experienced practitioner
will tell you that it is now more complex and less certain
than before the simplification began. When therefore
you have made up your mind definitely as to what it is
you really want, you must carefully avoid all quacks.
You must go to men who have spent their lives in the
study — such men as Sir Edward Sugden, and Mr.
Brodie. They will tell you whether, and by what
practical measures, you can attain your wishes.
Next, the rights of property must be scrupulously
and religiously respected. Once take liberties with it,
and its value is gone. The stimulus to exertion, the
great end of civilized society, is destroyed.
Yet, thirdly, the evil is pressing. A remedy is
required that will operate, not merely in the time of
our children or grandchildren, but now and with us.
Depend on it, the aggregation of real property in too
few hands, not only obstructs the due cultivation of
the soil, but greatly detracts from the present value of
land, and is not unattended with imminent political
Once more, there is a remedy which would un-
doubtedly be ultimately ejQTectual, but which ought not
to be adopted.
Merely to abolish primogeniture would (as we have
seen) be doing nothing ; but to abolish the power of
AXD OCCUPYING OWNERS. 837
devising or settling lands after a man^s death on his
eldest son, and to make, as in France, the division of
every man's land among all his children, or collateral
relations in the same degree of consanguinity, com-
pulsory — this indeed would, in a few generations, break
up and break to pieces every estate large or small.
But the objections are obvious. The disintegration
goes on to an extreme subdivision, or rather pulverisa-
tion of every estate, inconsistent with the residence of
the cultivating occupier on the land, and therefore with
effectual cultivation. Who will construct a house or
homestead fit for the small estate, when on the death
of the proprietor to-morrow, the tyrant law may sever
the house from the land, or mince up the land into
little bits ? Accordingly we find, that the little French
proprietors do not generally live on their little estates,
(as they ought to do) but in villages. Nay, even the
tendency of the land to re-unite is not without its
evils. You often find the lands of a single small
French proprietor lying not together, but dispersedly,
in little patches at a great distance from each other.
It is a common complaint, that immense quantities of
land are wasted, and infinite litigation and expense
created, by rights of way. Liberty of disposition
taken away, property loses one of its attractions.
Children rendered independent of their parents, are less
subject to parental control. Lastly, such a measure
would utterly destroy the aristocratical branch of our
mixed government, and that stability of poHtical in-
338 SMALL ESTATES
stitutions, which is indispensable to the development
of national prosperity.
But violent and destructive as the ultimate operation
of this potent medicine would be, it would in our time
lie dormant in the system. It is not, therefore, that
instant and immediately efficacious remedy that we
so urgently need.
Lastly, another inapplicable remedy which has been
proposed is this — to limit the interests which a man
may carve out of land, in order that every owner,
above the occupying tenant, should have a fee simple,
which fee simple he may sell and do as he pleases
Some restraint on the interests which a man may
now carve out of land, and on the capricious and
unintelligible conditions, on which he may make the
enjoyment of his property hinge, would probably be
good. But the owner of land would think it very
hard that he should not be able to leave his wife a life
estate, or to provide out of it portions for his daughters
or younger children, or to mortgage it a first and
second time if he will, and a third and fourth time if
Yet if he is to be allowed to do these things, huge
masses of property are at once, by settlements and
encumbrances, kept out of the market. Nor is even
this all. Men like to round their estates. They buy
up and engross the little neighbouring properties, and
charge the whole estate with money to pay for the new
AND OCCUPYING OWNERS. 339
purchase. Thus the complication of settlements and
charges embraces and corrupts even the sound parts,
like the hideous roots of a cancer.
Where are you to turn amidst these practical and
apparently insuperable difficulties, which superficial
observers never consider, but which present themselves
at once to those who will condescend to look ' nar-
rowly and steadily into the real facts ?
Why do you want every owner to have an estate in
fee simple ? Not for his sake, but for the sake of the
public. It is because you want to enable him to
SELL, and to enable an eager purchaser and certain and
great improver to buy. You v/ant, moreover, to sim-
plify the title.
In a word, you want a proper power of sale.
Now you have the true clue. Follow it, and it may
lead you out of the labyrinth.
The first remedy therefore would seem to be this.
You may enact that there shall always (notwithstand-
ing all settlements and incumbrances) be some one
person, some single will, that can exercise a power of
sale, not only over the fee-simple of the whole of the
land, but over the fee-simple of every part of it. Then
give the purchaser under that power of sale a new
parliamentary title, such as he has under the Irish
Encumbered Estates Act, leaving the purchase money
to be invested at interest, under the sanction of public
340 SMALL ESTATES
authority, for the benefit of those who had particular
interests in the land; so that the purchase money
instead of the land may hereafter be the subject of
claims and litigation, should any arise.
Nor does there seem any good reason why a plurality
of persons should not be separately and independently
entrusted with such a power of sale over every portion
of the land, for example, mortgagor and mortgagee,
supposing the mortgagor unable to pay off the incum-
But it is not enough merely to provide that no
future settlement shall take an estate or any part of it
out of the market. The evil is pressing, and requires
an immediate remedy. Such a power should be con-
ferred by law on some owner of every estate, already
either settled or encumbered without it. A cheap tribu-
nal should be instituted at the expense of the public,
to decide in whom the power of sale should be vested,
and to take care that no infant or married woman, no
reversioner, remainderman, or incumbrancer is injured
by its exercise.
In ordinary cases, the most natural depository of
the power to sell the whole or any part of the land,
would seem to be, the owner of the freehold in pos-
A mode of investing the purchase money on govern-
ment security so as imm.ediately and certainly to bring
interest for every day, and so as that the whole prin-
cipal, without increase or decrease shall, when necessary
AND OCCUPYING OWNERS. 341
be forthcoming, is practicable without loss to the
public* In the mean time the property, in its new
shape, remains subject to all the interests, all the
incumbrances, and all the claims to which it was
subject when it was in the shape of land. But that
land itself is now as effectually discharged from all
these estates, interests, incumbrances and claims, as
if it were a portion of the virgin soil of a new colony.
The purchaser takes a new, clear, unassailable title.
By such measures all the estates in England and
Ireland, every field and bit of ground would immedi-
ately be endued with a vital power of shufiiing off the
coil of complicated settlements and charges, without
expense, and not only without injury to any one, but
with great augmentation of value, and great benefit to
all parties as well as to the public.
The law would say to every proprietor, ' Settle or
incumber your property as you please, within the same
limits as now restrain you, but if you do choose to
settle and incumber, the public interest requires
that no land should be thereby taken out of the mar-
ket. Without this provision experience shews that
you will create a mortmain as bad as the mortmain of
the middle ages. There must be no obstacle to the
sale of land. There must be free-trade in land."*
Such a state of things once existing, wherever a
man is willing to give a good price for an estate, or a
* See p. 185. And even a security against decline in the value of
money would not be impossible.
342 SMALL ESTATES
portion of it, — for a field or a house^ there is a vendor
who can, for the mutual advantage of all concerned,
sell, and make a new, indisputable, inexpensive title.
Incumbrances on landed property would thus at once
cease to prejudice the public; and facilities would
every where be afforded for the creation of new freehold
estates of moderate size, fit for the residence of pro-
prietors. Titles would every where grow more simple,
instead of growing more complex.
You do more violence to property than this, when
you want land, for a railway, a new street or dock, or
any other public improvement. You take the land at
a fair price, vendor, or no vendor, in spite of the oppo-
sition of all concerned. Here the greatest of all public
improvements wants land : here the vendor wants to
sell : but as things now are, the law, disregarding the
interests and wishes of the vendor, the purchaser, and
the public, in effect forbids the sale.
Another measure is this, — applying the scheme of
association to the purchase of estates.
A large English, Irish, or Scotch estate is brought
into the market. The size and price is such, that the
number of competitors for it is very limited. The
estate does not fetch its fair value. And the purchaser
after all cannot pay for it. He lets a large portion of
the purchase money remain on mortgage. It is an
incumbered estate still. But if it could be sold in
smaller portions, it would be bid for by hundreds of
AND OCCUPYING OWNERS. 343
anxious purchasers, who have small property to invest.
Yet, to put it up, and sell, and convey it in lots is
sometimes impossible, often inconvenient, always highly
and disproportionately expensive to every small pur-
chaser, for every one has to investigate the title, and
to obtain numerous conveyances from all the parties
interested in the property. And after all, you cannot
say of the title of any of these purchasers, that it is
Why should not a joint stock company purchase such
a large estate : especially where such a power of sale
exists as we have described. It acquires a large tract
of good, or at least improvable land in fee, with a new
and clear title. It can divide it into convenient allot-
ments of different sizes, for which, if resold, there would
be a hot competition. The principle is this, — a number
of individuals combine to buy in undivided shares,
and they afterwards divide their purchase. Thus the
immense estates sold under the Encumbered Estates
Act in Ireland, might find purchasers at a fair value.*
But sad experience of building societies, and other
societies on the same principle, has shewn, that left to
themselves, they may become the very hot-beds of
jobbery and malversation. Possibly, when they are in
the hands of persons of more substance and intelligence,
these evils may be abated. But if not, then there is
a clear case for legislative interference and regulation.
* A scheme of this kind has been recently proposed in Ireland by Mr.
Vincent Scully, Q. C.
344 SMALL ESTATES
At all events, pecuniary liability beyond the amount
of a man's subscription, must be entirely taken away.
And the object of the society must be restricted to the
mere purchase of land, and its subsequent division
among the shareholders. As soon as this is accom-
plished, the society must be at an end, and its affairs
wound up. The simplicity both of the object, and of
the means, and the shortness of the Society's duration
would alone be a great security against misconduct.
But now steps forth a large landed proprietor, an En-
glish duke, or Irish earl. " I do not approve of giving
the public this practical power to buy my landed
property, although for a full compensation. The
future maintenance of the just rank of my family is
thus hereafter made dependent on the solvency of
No property is taken from you. It is only you and
your successors that are endued with a power to sell,
if you please. And care is even taken, not only that
no successor of yours, but that not even you yourself,
shall injure those that come after you. As to govern-
ment security, you need not take it if you doubt
it, there will be plenty of mortgagors ready to borrow
on a new and clear fee-simple. Nay, there is nothing
to prevent you or your family re-investing in land, as
well as others.
You say, my Lord, you do not approve of giving
the public the power thus to deal with your property.
AND OCCUPYING OWNERS. d'io
How does your Lordship like the way the public is
dealing with your property now ? You are now ex-
periencing but a foretaste of the bitter consequences of
allowing the ownership of real property to rest on too
narrow a basis. Such measures as have received the
sanction of the English legislature, could not pass the
National Assembly of France, though elected by uni-
versal suffrage. A¥hy ? because of the diffusion of
landed property among the people.
Tt is most respectfully suggested, that this is the very
crisis, when the great landed interest should favour and
forward every safe and practicable scheme, to diffuse
the ownership of land, extensively and immediately
among the nation at large.
Freehold Land Societies have been instituted to pur-
chase 40s. freeholds, and so weaken the landed interest
yet more in the House of Commons. But they are a
double-edged weapon. Freehold Land Societies on a
larger scale, which shall enable people in England or
Ireland to purchase land in quantities varying from
30 to 50 acres, will be infinitely more popular than a
society merely to purchase votes, about which most
people really care very little. These new proprietors
will all be conservative in the best sense of the word. —
Powerful instruments not only to assist in ultimately
obtaining justice, but in keeping it when you have got
it. More than all this, if a safe but effectual reform in
this matter is procrastinated, there is at hand danger
of a very different and much more serious nature.
346 SMALL ESTATES
A third measure is this.
A power conferred on the public of taking, at the
fair existing value, all unimproved and really waste land.
The public we have seen, has the deepest interest in
developing the producing forces of a nation. The
greatest of these is the land. MiUions of acres are
lying waste, while the public is maintaining at vast
expense in idleness and vice, hundreds of thousands of
paupers. All that is wanting is, to bring together man
and the land.
If the owner will do it himself, let him ; but if he
cannot or will not, the public must do it for him.
The public would not continue a landed proprietor.
It would embark in no untried scheme. It would only
do what the Prussian government has actually done
It would allot the land to the poor in portions large
enough to enable a family by its own labour to main-
tain itself, but not larger. For the first two or three
years without rent. Then at a very moderate rent.
The purchase money of each lot to the occupying
tenant should be fixed beforehand. It ought to be no
more than sufficient to save the public from loss, and
it would then be very low. The rent paid should go
to the credit of the purchase money, and (if the state
is resolved not to lose a farthing,) of the interest
upon it. The occupier would thus become a purchaser.
We have seen that superhuman industry, and con-
certed, but gratuitous labour would immediately, cer-
AND OCCUPYING OWNERS. 347
tainly, and profitably subjugate, drain, and utterly
change the most unpromising tracts. This, as we
have seen, is not theory, but constant and universal
The state not only need lose nothing, it need not
even advance any thing. The land itself, (to say
nothing of the guarantee of the state,) would be ample
security for the purchase money. The interest upon
it would be gladly contributed in fair proportions by
the parishes, who would thus not only get rid of their
surplus labourers, but transform them at once into the
most useful and productive of the Queen's subjects.
Nay, this very interest of money itself would be
Can the owner complain ? What does he say to
the case of hundreds of other owners, whose valuable
and improved land, perhaps building land, is taken at
its fair existing value, for railways, streets, or docks,
the best of which improvements are of far less public
utility. By this greatest of improvements, all the ad-
joining land, whether it belong to him or anybody
else, is augmented in value.
The influence of the scheme would be felt even by
the most distant parishes. Railways could bring the
able-bodied paupers from any distance. It would then
be seen that the real surplus of hands in Great Britain
is very small. Poor rates would be almost extinguished.
Now is the time to act. The stream of emigration
and depopulation once fairly set in, this enlightened
348 SMALL ESTATES AND OCCUPYING OWNERS.
policy may no longer be possible.* Your waste lands
will remain waste^ while foreign lands are cultivated
for the benefit of foreign powers, with what would have
been your labour and your capital.
What stands in the way ? The wretched let-alone
* If this policy had been adopted two years ago in Ireland, how dif-
ferent would have been the present condition of that unhappy kingdom.
JOINT STOCK C03IPANIES. 349
" Rei^eal the Bubble Act."
So cried the experimentalists of 1825. And it was
done. Here and there a warning voice was raised.
Many a high-spirited^ but ruined and broken-hearted
man knows now, but too well, how wise that warning
The plague, the cholera, the black death, the sweat-
ing sickness, are epidemics that have periodically de-
vastated the earth. But mankind are subject to moral
as well as physical epidemics. Ever and anon there
stalk abroad palpable delusions that attack and prostrate
the reason of whole nations. The wisest are sometimes
the first victims. Such epidemics have been seen in
our own time. They were no novelties, and as they
were not the first, will doubtless not be the last.
The tulipomania broke out in Holland about 1634,
and before 1637 had spread over a large part of
Europe. The cultivation of the tulip had been carried
to great perfection in Holland. Many of the roots
were valuable. People found that by buying up par-
ticular sorts they could sell them again at very high
prices. Then came the fever of speculation. Tulips
350 JOINT STOCK COMPANIES
rose to such a price, that for a single root of a sort
called the Viceroy were given, we are told, 2 lasts
of wheat, 4 lasts of rye, 4 fat oxen, 3 fat swine, ] 2
fat sheep, 2 hogsheads of wine, 4 tuns of beer, 2 tuns
of butter, 1000 pounds of cheese, a complete bed, a
suit of clothes, and a silver beaker. Nay, Joint Stock
Companies were formed, holding undivided shares in
one root. People bought and sold tulips that never
existed ; and were known by both buyer and seller not
to exist. As now, on the Stock Exchange, there are
the different manoeuvres of putting on stock, differences,
continuations, backwardations; so it was then, with
tulip roots. It is said, that in three years ten millions
of Dutch money thus changed hands in a single town
in Holland. At length the bubble broke and all the
dealers were ruined. No, not all. In every delusion
of this kind, long-headed knaves stand by, urge on the
game, sell out in time, sweep the stakes into their
pouch, and leave the swindled public to gape and stare
at one another.
After the lapse of a little more than eighty years,
the Mississippi and South Sea schemes broke out in
France and England. South Sea stock was bought
and sold till the price was driven up to 1000. Bubble
companies of the most absurd description were eagerly
embraced as lucrative speculations or profitable invest-
ments. Plodding industry was despised by a nation
of gamblers. Sages of the law, dignitaries of church,
the principal nobility, male and female, nay, the Royal
WITH LIMITED LIABILITY. 351
family and the Prince of Wales himself, were swept
into the devouring whirlpool of Capel Court. Besides
losing their venture, it was found that by becoming
partners, many had risked their all. When at last the
crash came, multitudes were ruined in fortune and
character, and public credit itself was shaken.
This was the very crisis for wise legislation. Events
had developed a mischief. Experience had demon-
strated, amongst other things, that the unlicensed
power to create Joint Stock Companies, not only
nourished a spirit of gambling, but involved unwary
purchasers and their innocent families, in the awful
liabilities of partnership.
Accordingly, parliament legislated by the light of
experience, and in 1719, the Bubble Act was passed,
putting a stop to Joint Stock Companies without the
license of Parliament or the Crown.
The mischief was kept under for little more than a
century. But in 1825, Parliament was persuaded by
the disciples of the let-alone system, (which supersti-
tion was then much more accredited than it is now,)
to repeal the Bubble Act. In 1826 an inundation
of Joint Stock schemes exceeded anything that had
been ever before known. A fearful revulsion again
involved multitudes in ruin.
In 1 845 the same gambling returned, and the same
And ever since 1855 how many instances have been
continually occurring of men of property unwarily pur-
352 JOINT STOCK COMPANIES
chasing, or accepting as a gift or bequest, or taking for
the sake of encouraging a useful enterprize, a share or
two in an unincorporated Joint Stock Bank, or other
trading, or manufacturing company. A lawyer indeed,
would have told them that they ought not to touch
such a thing with a pair of tongs. But mankind are
not, and cannot be skilled in the law, and hate those
that are. Suddenly they find themselves brought in
as partners, and stript of their last acre and last
shilling. Indeed, it is in vain that men abstain. An
executor, far too prudent to hold shares in an unin-
corporated Joint Stock Company, administers an
estate and pays the legacies. He afterwards finds
that a share which his testator once held in a joint
stock undertaking, brings on the estate large liabilities.
He has committed a devastavit by paying legacies, and
has to that extent, become himself personally liable for
the debts of a company, of whose very existence he was
' Oh,' say the partisans of the let-alone system,
' men will learn wisdom by experience.' Alas, suppose
they did; wisdom comes too late, when a man is
ruined. And what say you to his children ? Up rises
another and another generation to be, like their fathers,
ruined first, and taught afterwards. You might, on
the same principle, repeal all the laws against gaming.
Indeed the Bubble Act was directed against the most
ruinous sort of gaming.
' What ? ' it will be said, ' are there to be no Joint
WITH LIMITED LIABILITY. 353
Stock Companies ? ' Quite the contrary. There are
to be more than there are now ; and safer and better.
Association is a powerful engine for increasing national
wealth, but like all other human institutions, it requires
regulation and control.
These observations do not touch companies incorpo-
rated by Act of Parliament, or Royal Charter. Such
Companies have a public sanction, which is some secu-
rity, that their objects are good, and of such magnitude
or public interest as to justify the association of many
capitals. A person subscribing to incorporated com-
panies, is only liable to the extent of his subscription.
He is safe.
But they are levelled at unincorporated Joint Stock
Companies. Every man that holds even a fractional
part of a small share, an interest to the value of a shil-
ling, (though he has no control over the entrance of
partners into the firm and very little over the manage-
ment,) is here personally Hable to every creditor of the
concern, down to his last farthing. Many of such
companies really are what the Bubble Act in terms
made them, public nuisances, and all of them are sub-
ject to become so.
Unincorporated Joint Stock Companies are of two
sorts ; those that really answer, and those that do not.
Those that really answer, would answer just as well
with a limited liability in the shareholders. Perhaps
much better, for more men of capital and judgment
would then belong to them. Those that do not answer,
354 JOINT STOCK COMPANIES
are silently involving and swamping all their share-
holders in unlimited liabilities; they are really nui-
sances, and the sooner they are put an end to, the
All manufacturing and trading concerns of moderate
size are best carried on, as they usually are, by the care,
experience, and undivided interest of a single individual.
No manager of a joint-stock concern, can ever display
the judgment and vigilance of a man grown grey, in
the conduct of his own business. When such a con-
cern is too large for the means of a single individual,
or other motives prompt to association, a common
partnership, with the unlimited responsibility of each
partner to his co-partner, and to the world, meets the
necessities of the case, and provides security for the
public. But in such a private partnership, each partner
has a veto on the introduction of every new partner.
He can take care that none but a man of integrity,
property, activity, ability, and experience, enters the
firm. He may, therefore, with propriety, and com-
parative safety, be made responsible for the acts of co-
partners of his own selection.
You next ascend to enterprizes of a public nature,
or too gi'eat for private means, — to railways, catials,
harbors, gas companies, water companies, steam navi-
gation companies. These are properly undertaken by
joint stock companies, with transferable shares. But
without further legislative interference, this is their
condition. Any body may purchase a share. Any
WITH LIMITED LIABILITY. 355
body's executors, or specific legatees, or assignees in
bankruptcy, or insolvency, may become partners. No-
body can therefore tell into what hands the concern
may fall. Unlimited liability is so dangerous, that if
men of property duly appreciated their position, no
man of property would belong to them. Who would
even hold a share in a railway company, if he were
personally liable for the debts and liabilities of the
iVccordingly, many of these companies, like all rail-
way companies, are incorporated either by Act of
Parliament, or Royal Charter.
But many unincorporated joint stock companies
remain, the liability of whose members are unlimited.
And many more which might be formed for the most
useful public objects, are nipped in the bud, because
there are no means of limiting the liability of subscri-
bers, without a Charter, or Act of Parliament.
What are the objections to extending the application
of the principle of limiting the personal liability of
members to all joint stock companies, hereafter to be
That these companies would interfere with trades
or occupations better carried on by private individuals,
or by common partnerships ?
That might be prevented, either by defining, (as might
easily be done,) the objects for which joint stock com-
panies should be allowed, or by reqmring the previous
sanction of some public authority.
356 JOINT STOCK COMPANIES
That creditors would lose their remedies. So you
might say of creditors of railways. Indeed, though
it may sound paradoxical, it is by no means clear,
that creditors of unincorporated companies are really
safer than the creditors of incorporated ones. For
creditors of unincorporated companies are apt to pre-
sume on the unlimited liability and solvency of
the members, whereas men of real substance have,
by that very liability, been prevented from becoming
But a creditor who knows beforehand, that he can
only look to the qnasi-corporate property, will be
careful of the extent to which he gives credit. And if,
notwithstanding, he will imprudently give more credit
than he ought, he has only himself to blame for his
loss. If he is actually defrauded, he will still have
his remedy against the individuals who were personally
and really guilty of the fraud.
Again, there is no reason why, in some cases, (if it
should be thought desirable,) the liability of members,
though still definite, should not be extended beyond
the amount of a member's share, to half as much
again, or twice or three times as much.* Lastly,
here is a choice of evils, either the creditor must suffer
for his own imprudence, to a definite extent, which he
has himself limited— or else the unfortunate shareholder,
* An Act of Parliament, 6 Geo : 4 c. 91. already enables the crown to
grant a charter, extending the liability of members to a definite extent
bevond their shares. But I am not aware whether it has been acted on.
WITH LIMITED LIABILITY. S57
without his own fault, to an unknown, indefinite, and
But experience has shewn that shareholders, even in
incorporated companies, need infinitely more control
than they at present possess, over directors and
And why should they not possess it ? If the mem-
bers of a private partnership fall out, any one of them
may by law compel the accounts to be taken by a
Why should not the members of a Joint Stock
Company have the same power, but more easily exer-
Why should not a cheaper and more efiectual tribu-
nal be established, for supervising the accounts of every
railway, and every joint stock company. Most mani-
festly the interest of every shareholder requires it.
The majority of shareholders are themselves no more
capable of understanding or checking the accounts fur-
nished by directors, than of decyphering the hierogly-
phics on Cleopatra^s obelisk ; nor have they the means
of properly delegating the power. No directors ought
to be trusted with such license, in dealing with large
sums. What stands in the way of an effectual system
of supervision ? The wretched let-alone superstition.
When the limits within which joint stock companies
should exist, are defined— when a limited liability of
shareholders — and an effectual control over directors
358 JOINT STOCK COMPANIES.
and their expenditure, is introduced, then, and not till
then, will be seen what association can achieve.
How many men of ample [property, grown grey in
business, but retired from active life, now waste the
maturity of their judgment and experience, and shorten
their lives in doing nothing ! What a field might be
opened to their [exertions, for the public benefit at
home and abroad, on land and sea, by a safe system
of association. The Americans here, as everywhere
else, are getting far before us, and accomplishing what
we dare not attempt.
The Roman Numerals refer to the Preface.
Mr. McCulloch's theory pursued to its legitimate con-
sequences, 238, 289.
Of commodities more important than cheapness, 189.
Money of account, what it is, 178, 174.
Trusts for accumulation restrained, 86, 334.
Of articles of food punished, 87.
The most important of arts, 208, 209.
Its burthens in England, 42, 43.
Unfair mode of estimating the pressure of its burthens,
Its burthens in Ireland, 153 — 159.
System of agriculture in Southern Russia, 42.
Mode of carriage of agricultural produce there, 48.
To be promoted if necessary by direct legislation, 92.
Immense amount of agricultural capital at stake, 45. n,
Alfred the Great.
Such a legislator as Ireland requires, 165, 166.
See United States.
Legal supervision and registration of, 88.
His opinion of the Currency Act of 1844, 176, 177.
On the National Debt, 233.
Formerly populous, now desert, 80, 206.
On gold and silver, protection afforded by, 89.
The Socialist remedy. Its inapplicability, 820.
By joint stock companies, how it should be regulated
Compulsory education of, 90.
Taxation of their bills, 89.
On the spirit of system, 9, 10.
A writer on political economy, 3.
Balance of trade,
Not to be neglected, 171 .
Now against England, 34, n.
Now part of the currency, 173.
Their large amount, 173.
Its obstinate maintenance of protection, 75.
Its tranquillity and prosperity, 76.
Improved cultivation of the soil, 76.
His opinion of Mr. Ricardo, 211, n.
Its necessity, 849, 851.
Its repeal and the consequences, 351.
His opinion as to the propriety of government inter-
His recipe for cheapness. (32, 265.
Its consumption of British manufactures, 100.
Value of land in, x.
Cape of Good Hope,
Value of this Colony, 103, 104.
What it is, 145, 146.
Whether there can be too much capital, 49.
Capital of England, 145—149.
Vast masses of capital unemployed, 49.
Its natural channels not always the most advantage-
ous, 13, 14, 15, 18, 36, 55, 265.
Theory of the employment of capital on land, 214, 215.
Capital does not spring from savings only, 147-
Not sunk in Railv^^ays, 147.
Capital throv^^n out of employment will not, as is
pretended, necessarily find other employment, 48.
Two capitals to be considered in any case of production
by the aid of capital — the capital consumed in pro-
duction, and the capital reproduced, 37.
Four capitals where there is an exchange, 40, n.
Immense amount of agricultural capital in England,
45, n. xii.
An ultra-protectionist, 107.
A word of many meanings, 133.
The four kinds of cheapness, 133 — 140.
The maxim 'Buy in the cheapest market" examined, 36.
Cheapness of food a most important benefit, 119, 138.
No objection that it brings down rents, 120, 138, n.
How it may be safely attained, 138, n.
Mischiefs of aiming at it by the indiscriminate impor-
tation of foreign corn, 38, 138.
Amount of protection that ought to be conceded to
home-grown food, 41—45, 120.
Mr, Burke's recipe for cheapness, 62, 265.
See Banker's Checks.
Advocates government control, 83.
On War, 288.
Mischiefs of working very little children, 259, 260.
His mode of preparing flax, 210.
The policy of this great minister, 71.
Enumerated, 99 -105.
Their capabilities and value, 98, 108, 109.
Steam communication with, 96.
Now unrepresented in Imperial Parliament, 112o
Formerly not really so, 112.
Miserable inadequacy of the Colonial Ofl&ce, 112.
Abandoned to the let-alone system, 311.
Might be otherwise conducted, 812 — 317.
In New Brunswick, 313.
Improved mode of transport at hand, 313.
Ready made Colonies, 314,
Land in the Colonies should he sold cheap, 314.
Regulation for its occupation, 315.
Emigration of criminals, 816.
Ohjections of the socialists to competition, 320.
How far they are well-founded, 321.
Competition requires regulation, 321.
Effects of universal and unlimited competition, 63, 247,
The true use and limits of competition, 321.
A new field of study, 321 .
Consumers and Producers,
See Producers and Consumers.
Copyright Law, 85.
Corn and Corn Laws,
Precarious condition of the cotton manufacture, 279.
Cotton from India, 115 — 118,
As cotton was once manufactured in India, so it may
he again, xiv.
What it is, 146.
Its connection with capital, 146 — 149.
Supplies the place of bullion, 170.
Mode of disposing of, so that their punishment may be
exemplary, useful, and reformatory, 316, 317.
Grandeur of his administration, 292.
Eminently adapted to the growth of sugar, 55.
Pbatical expeditions to, 286.
Sometimes fall entirely on the foreign importer, some-
times partially, 122.
Of Great Britain as well as Ireland, will he the eflPect
of recent measures, 47, 311.
Deportation of the people, a ruinous measure, 218, 31] .
Will prevent the cultivation of the soil.
Not necessary, 307 — 310.
Of industry over the globe, whether unregulated ex-
changes tend to it, 55.
Of population over a country, whether the natural
course of events can he trusted for this purpose, 307.
Of the ownership of real property, 324—328.
Means of effecting it, 829-348.
Danger of neglecting it.
Drainage of Towns,
Necessity of, 92.
Neglect of, 96.
Best and true mode of spreading the refuse of great
cities on the soil, 215, 308.
Employment of paupers on this work, 225, 226.
Value to l&reat Britain, 99, 100, 115—118.
A temptation to Russia, 285, n.
Our cotton should come from the East Indies, 115 —
Our trade with the East Indies now thrown open to
the Americans, without compensation, 298 — 300.
Manufacture and growth of cotton in India, smothered
by English manufactures, xiv.
Possibility of manufacturing cotton in India, xi. xii.
Public provision for in England, miserably inadequate,
Rendered impossible by the slavery of little children,
259, 260, 275.
Inadequacy of education to cope with the evils of large
Ancient Egypt repudiated the let-alone system, 14.
Its linen manufacture, 279.
Its best soils not first cultivated, 14, 213.
Capital displaced, will not necessarily find employment
as is pretended, 48.
Nor labor displaced, 51.
The employment of paupers, 220 — 229.
Have long been really destroyed in England, 329, 330.
Whether their abolition in name also, would have any
further effect, 331.
Moral epidemics exist as well as physical, 7, 349.
See Great Exhibition of J 851.
Exports and Imports.
Increase of exports and imports, no infallible test of
Comparative increase of exports and imports in the
United States, in the United Kingdom, and in
Regulating the employment of women and children,
An enlightened measure, 273, 282.
The dawn of a new and beneficent legislation, 258.
But opposed to modern theories, 258.
Regulations somewhat similar, but against the laborer
existed in England for 464: years, 254.
Natural disadvantages under which they labor, 45.
Condition of British farmers, their inability to bear the
superaddition of financial burthens, 41, 42.
Immense amount of capital employed on the land,
Condition of the farmers in the South of Russia, 42.
What state of things would place Manchester in a
similar condition, 4G.
Large and small farmers, 320.
Ancient use of linen in Eg^^pt, 279.
In England, 2S0.
Improvements in its preparation, 280.
Importance of its home growth, 281.
Mr. Warne's growth of flax, 281.
Irish linen trade, 197, n.
More generally diffused before the union, 168, n.
Superabundant and cheap supplies of British food
Cheapness of food a blessing, 119, 138, n.
The duty on foreign corn should be a discriminating
See Home Trade.
Not destroyed by protection, 113.
Her inflexible maintenance of the protective policy, 71 .
Enormous increase of her exports and imports, since
Probable consequences of her admitting English manu-
French flour, 43.
What really is so, 29, 80.
Its effects if it could be universal, 55 to 69.
What in this country is called free-trade is one-sided
and one -ended, 84, 35.
Efi^ect on Ireland of free-trade with England, 58, 65,
Eifect of free-trade in Turkey, 80.
Effect of the experiment in Russia, 73, 74.
Efffect of the experiment in America, 76.
Eff^ect in Canada, 80.
Effect in Jamaica and the West India Islands, 101.
Eff^ect in the East Indies, .
There ought as a general rule, to be free and unregula-
ted exchanges between provinces of the same state, 64.
And over a geographical area, large enough to secure
division of labor and production on a large scale, 64.
Distinction between an extensive area of unregulated
exchanges, and an unlimited one, 65.
Ireland has been a loser by unregulated exchanges with
England, 65, 79, 197.
And England too, 196.
England will ultimately abandon her new commercial
legislation, 78, 245, 246.
Abandonment of it in Russia, 75.
In America, 76.
His system of political economy, 1 .
Say's observations on, 148.
A universal glut impossible, 148.
Real cause of gluts, 81.
Its probable depreciation in value, 236.
Great Exhibition of 1851.
Exhibits the triumphs of protection, 78, 79.
Pictures in its Hall, 106.
In British North America, 100, 312.
Its noble harbour, 100, 312.
Railway from Quebec, 313, 317.
Its secession from free-trade, 241 .
Its accession to the Zolverein, 241.
Its repudiation of the let-alone system, 14.
Formerly mistress of the Cape, 103.
Its appreciation of the value of that Colony, 103, 104,
Much more important than the foreign trade according
to Adam Smith, 18.
And according to Say, 20.
A subject little understood, iv.
The entire price of every home-made article is net
gain, 21 to 26, 266.
Mr. Ricardo's opinions on home and foreign trade, 30.
Effects of a tax on consumers for the benefits of domes-
tic producers, 265.
Penalty on false packing, 89.
Of our recent policy. No example of at present, 241.
Incidence of Taxation, 121, 122.
How they may be freed, 339—348.
Individuals and the Community,
Alleged co-incidence of their interests, 272.
A mistake, 272, 273.
See East Indies, and West Indies.
Inconsistency and caprice of the law in the protection
it affords them, 259, 260.
Of money, 180.
What regulates it, 181.
A low rate of interest, a very different thing from a
low value of money, 180.
Alleged coincidence of the interest of individuals and
of the community, 273.
Its producing forces, viii. ix.
Its extraordinary fertility, 150.
Physical and mental superiority of its inhabitants, 190.
Its present horrible condition, 151.
England to blame for it, 151.
Capable of being soon remedied, 150,
But will never cure itself, 150.
Discouragement of Irish manufactures before the
Destruction of them since by English manufactures,
197, 198, 199.
Opinion of M. Dupin and Mr. Webster on this subject,
Irish manufactures should be protected, 19J: — 196.
Population not excessive even before the late and pre-
sent emigration, 159.
But congested, 160.
Re-destribution of the population necessary, 156.
Might be easily effected, 163.
Waste but cultivable land in Ireland, 160.
New and smaller rating destricts necessary, 156.
Law of settlement, 156.
Present Irish poor law, 152.
Faint hopes of amelioration either from an English or
Irish parliament, 165.
Swift's opinions on Ireland, 191.
His opinions, xv .
From what time they ought to bind the land, 184.
Thrown out of employment, will not, as is pretended,
necessarily find other employment, 51.
But may be forced abroad, 51, 52.
The labour of the ancient world was slave labour, 252.
Required the interference of law, 253.
So does free labor, 253, 254,
Requires the stimulus of self interest and competition,
Socialism incompatible with that severe labour which
is indispensable to progress, 320.
Its natural channels not always the most advanta-
Laissez Faire, Laissez Passer.
See Let-alone Policy,
The greatest of producing forces, viii. ix.
The employment of the people on the land, the aim of
all true political economy, 92, 323.
Dangers of land being in too few hands, 345.
Means of diffusing its ownership, 329 — 348.
Landlord and Tenant,
Tenant requires the interposition of the law in con-
tracts with his landlord, 94, 187.
Limitations, Statute of
Might with advantage be made more stringent, 186.
Synonymous with indifference, inaction, impotence and
A prejudice founded in human nature, 11.
Has never accomplished any thing, 15.
Achievements of nations that have not been blinded by
it, 15, 16.
Prevents the regeneration of Ireland, 150, 157, 165, 199.
Prevents the employment of the Poor, 220 to 229.
Prevents the cultivation of the land, 184.
Prevents the diffusion of the ownership of real property,
Prevents the proper regulation of the currency, 168.
Prevents the due remuneration of labor, 268.
Prevents the benefit of association, 357.
Manufacturing population of, 275, 276.
Manufacturing population of, 277.
Folly and ingratitude of complaints against its efficacy,
Will necessitate more artificial arrangements between
master and workman, 139, 258.
Symptoms of change of opinion on some important
His error when treating of home and foreign trade, 28, n.
His opinions on the theory of population, 202.
On Manufactures, 278.
On absenteeism, 288.
His notions on Absenteeism pursued to their legitimate
His theory of population, 201 .
On the theory of rent, 211 .
His notion that the natural wages of labor are a baro-
meter expressing the wants of society respecting the
population, 203, 206, 251.
The noblest product of the temperate zone, IG.
Infant manufactures always need protection, 61, 62.
Their protection is essential even to ultimate cheapness,
The Great Exhibition shews what, 62, 78, 79.
Irish manufactures before the union, 65, 197, 198.
Evils incedent to manufacturing industry, 274.
French manufactures, 274, 275.
Manufacturing population of Lisle, 270.
Of Lyons, 276, 277.
Extremes of wealth and indigence in the manufacturing
department of the North, 277.
Mr. McCulloch's opinion that manufactures require
Precarious basis of the English cotton manufacture, 279.
Flax manufacture, 279, 280.
The source of increase of capital, 148.
What are the greatest markets, 262.
Its despotic enforcement, the foundation of civilization,
His observations on wages, 247.
His opinions on peasant proprietors, 326.
Truth of his remark, that the poor have profited little
at present by mechanical inventions, 139, n. 250.
The elder Mr. Mill's clear exposition of the new theory
of rent, 211, n.
His opinion of depopulation, ix. n.
Partly paper, better than a currency entirely metallic,
Effect of the Act of 1844, 171, 175 to 177.
Distribution of the precious metals among the countries
of the world, 178.
A great and permanent decline in the value of money
probably to be expected, 236.
Various sorts of money, 172.
Bank notes, 172.
Bills of exchange, 173.
Money of account, 178, 174.
Effects of high value of money, 185, 136.
Effects of its declining value, 136, 178, 179.
Effects of its increasing value, 136.
Distinction between high and low value of money, and
high and low rate of interest, 180, 181.
A writer on political economy, 8,
The law will not allow a man to mortgage, so that he
forfeits his right to redeem, 88.
Powers of sale in mortgages, not so usual in Ireland as
Should be subject to a power in the owner to sell por-
tions of an estate, 185.
Should contain a power of sale extending to portions
of the estate, 186.
How mortgages and other incumbrances may be shifted
off the land, 185, 186, 339-342.
Provisions against, 85.
The new mortmain in the shape of incumbered estates,
Remedies for, 183, 339—349.
His system, 1.
Mischief done by incurring it, 125.
Not remedied by ceasing to pay the interest, 125.
Profligate augmentation of it, by borrowing in a 3 per
cent, stock, 231.
This error suggests a scheme for its reduction, 232 — 236.
Not too heavy a burthen for the United Kingdom, 128.
Its pressure grievously augmented by the change in
our commercial policy, 46, 179.
Their repeal confers on the foreigner the benefit of
cheaper shipping than the English producer can em-
Devised by Cromwell and the Long Parliament, 292.
What they were, 203, 294.
Adam Smith's opinion of them, 294, 295.
EfFects of their repeal, 295 to 306.
Not a tax for the benefit of a class, 265, 802.
Its timber and ship-building, 100.
As an out-let for our population, 31 2.
Railway to Quebec, 312.
A legitimate ground of escheat, 187.
Or at least of liability to purchase by the public, 346.
Department du, its condition, 275—277.
Change of the opinion of instructed men on this subject,
Observations of M. Chevalier, 83, n.
Opinion of Mr. Burke, 82.
Instances of beneficial interference of government,
82 to 90.
Further interference where required, 91 — 97, 339, 346.
Pas trop gouverner,
Isthmus of, obliterated, by the capital of the United
English law of, 352, 355.
Its perils, 352.
Necessity of, 90.
Patent Laws, 85.
Its political dangers, 221.
Employment of the able-bodied pauper, 221, 258.
Laws regulating, 87.
Equity, and even law relieve against, 87.
Anecdote of Sir Thomas More, 87.
His observations on the Spirit of System, 9.
Of two sorts, 142, 143.
How attained, 143.
Whether yet a science, 1.
Diligently studied abroad, xv.
Malthus's theory, 201.
Mr. M^CuUoch's opinion of this theory, 202.
Both branches of the theory irreconciliable with facts,
203 to 207.
Physical deterioration of the population, 207.
Powers of Sale,
Should always accompany a mortgage, 186.
Should extend to portions of an estate, 1 86.
Should be annexed to limited interests in the land,
No estate should be suffered to be in settlement without
a power of sale, 340.
The mere abolition of primogeniture will have little
or no effect in diffusing the ownership of real pro-
No primogeniture exists in Kent, 332.
Producers and Consumers,
Alleged taxation of producers for the benefit of con-
sumers, 265 to 271.
Every consumer dependent on a producer, 269.
Of a nation, what they are, vii. viii.
Delusive and extravagant expectations of, often enter-
tained, 318, 319.
Indispensable to infant manufactures, 62.
To the general diffusion of industry throughout the
And to the due cultivation of the land in old countries,
63, 42, 43.
Protected manufactures not sickly, 70.
Protection required by the labour, 63, 247.
Protected manufactures, not the sickly ones, 70.
Does not destroy foreign trade, 113 to 116.
Amount of protection that ought to be conceded to the
production of home grown food, 41 to 45 — 120.
To Irish agriculture, 164.
Prud'hommes, Conseil de.
Its functions, 257.
See Sale of Encumbered Estates.
Quarantine Laws, 55.
Railway from Quebec to Halifax, 31 2.
A set-ofF against the National Debt, 147-
Increase the productiveness of land, 147-
Monuments, not of capital sunJc, 147.
But of capital created, 147.
Their use in the new planting of Ireland, 163.
Between Halifax and Quebec, 812.
No compensationforthelossof home production, 18 — 29.
Distinction between reciprocity in its ordinary sense,
and complete reciprocation, 29, 30.
Registration of titles to land,
Desirable and practicable, 186.
The modern theory of rent stated, 208, 210,
The gratuitous and incorrect hypotheses on which it
is founded, 211.
Best land not always nor even generally first culti-
vated, 212, 213.
Capital applied to land does not always yield succes-
sively diminishing returns, 214,
Fallacious consequences deduced from the theory, 216.
Injustice of Corn Laws merely for the purpose of keep-
ing up rents, 120.
Decline of rents in itself no evil, 138.
His view of the comparative advantages of home and
foreign trade, 30.
His theory of rent, 210.
Lord Brougham's opinion of Mr. Ricardo, 211, n.
Their magnificence and utility, 96, 97.
380 INDEX. .
Her vast extent, 74.
And varied climate, 75.
An infant but a herculean power, 73.
Wisdom of Peter the Great, 165.
Russia has tried and abandoned a liberal tariff, 74, 75.
Consequences of protecting her industry, 75.
Growth of corn in Southern Russia, 42.
Mode of carriage, 43.
Sale of Encumbered Estates,
Investments of the purchase money, 185, 341.
The purchaser should have a new title, 185, 186, 389.
Which should be subject to the interests and charges
before affecting the land, 185, 839.
Mortgages should be subject to a right in the owner of
the equity of redemption to sell part of the land, 185.
And powers of sale should also enable incumbrancers
to sell part, 186, 343.
Government guarantee and supervision necessary, 97.
The land the best Savings' Bank, 325.
Say, Jean Baptiste,
Admits the double value of the home-trade, 20, 21, n.
His observations on gluts, 143, 148.
Unforeseen consequences of its abolition in the West
Indies, 101, 253.
Slavery of antiquity, 252.
Slavery of the little children of the poor in Great
Not the first writer on true Political Economy, 8.
His estimate of the comparative value of the home and
foreign trade, 18 — 20.
His inconsistency, 141.
Destroys the only adequate motive to incessant toil, 820.
An impracticable scheme, 320.
True value of the objections urged by the socialists
against competition, 821.
A barbarous punishment, cruel but not exemplary,
Spirit of system,
What it is, 7.
Professor Playfair's observation on it, 9.
Steam communication with the Colonies should be
assisted by public aid, 96.
Its effects in war, 289, 290.
Large steam vessels that will soon be used for emi-
His genius, 16.
A barbarous expedient for settling wages, 256.
Cuba eminently adapted to the growth of, 55.
Policy of encouraging its production in the British
Indies. 118, 101, n.
Best Iron from, 71 •
His opinions on Ireland, 191.
Who really pay the taxes, 121, 122.
Who really receive them, 123.
Taxation not so injurious as vulgarly supposed, 121.
Possible that there may even be a tax by which the
nation shall really gain, 122.
One-sided free-trade more injurious than taxation, 127.
Taxation of consumers for the benefit of consumers,
His observations on the cultivation of the earth, 205.
On the let-alone system, 16.
On the cultivation of the South of Russia, 42.
Transportation or criminals,
Whither it may safely and usefully be directed, 317.
Its history, 349, 850.
No gainer by her system of unregulated exchanges, 80.
Their protective policy, 76, 242.
Their abandonment of a liberal tariff, 76.
Their manufactures, 76.
Their coming greatness, 99.
Their navigation laws, 297, 298.
Poor lands first cultivated, 212.
Opinions of their great statesmen, and writers, 11.
Takyig the lead of Great Britain in everything, 358.
Of producers, and of producers and consumers useful, 59.
Utilizes all materials and products, 59.
All land, 59.
All human creatures, 59, 60.
Opinion of President Jefferson on this subject, xv.
Expenditure of wages makes the great home market, C3.
Require protection, 63, 95.
Sad effects of low wages, 137 — 249.
Immense aggregate expenditure of the laboring classes,
Effects of introducing goods produced by worse paid
foreign labourers, 138, 248.
• Effect of custom on wages, 247.
Effect of high wages on the physical qualities of the
Security against unlimited foreign competition neces-
sary to an adequate rate of wages, 248.
True standard of wages, 250, 251, 263.
Ancient English laws regulating wages, 253, 254.
A better system of arbitration for the settlement of
wages necessary, 255.
Miserable system of strikes, 256.
Functions of the Conseil de Prud'hommes, 257.
A rise of wages no loss to the country or to employers,
Mr. Malthus' notion that the natural wages of labour
are a barometer expressing the wants of society in
respect of population, 203, 206, 251.
War, The first real war will destroy our new commercial
Vain hopes that there is to he no more war, 283.
Such hopes have heen often deceived before, 287 — 289.
Difficulty of avoiding it, 287.
Our dangers in the next war, 290, 291.
Effects in the next war of the invention of steam, 289, 290.
His growth of flax in Trimingham, 281.
Warrant of Attorney,
Debtors giving, protected by legal interference, 89.
Extent of— in Ireland, 160.
Planting the poor on, 156, 346.
Laying land down to waste or allowing it to be waste,
a legitimate ground of forfeiture, 187.
Or at least of liability to purchase by the public, 246.
Weights and Measures,
Settled by government, 85.
Enumeration of our Colonies there, 101, 102,
Their present awful condition, 101, n. ix.
The black population fast relapsing into barbarism,
ix. 101, n.
Why it should not be grown in England, 53.
Wine of Australia, 105.
The project of Dr. List, iv.
Its jealously protective policy, 72.
Its unparalleled prosperity, 73.
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